New form to help students decipher confusing financial aid info

Sizing up competing college financial aid offers should become easier with some federal help announced today at the University of Minnesota.

The government's "Know Before You Owe" project would cut through confusing terminology and establish one easily understandable report for students to compare each college's total cost and financial aid, including loans and scholarships.

Under the current system, it's difficult to discern when a college is offering free money and when it is factoring in a student loan, said student leader Amanda Bardonner.

"There is a lot of unclear data, especially between public schools and private schools," Bardonner said. "Because private schools, obviously, have that option to offer the larger financial aid packages. But they're not marketing it as a financial aid package, they're marketing it as a scholarship."

Officials hope to roll out the streamlined report next year.

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