Are loans financial aid?

It’s not necessarily a public/private school thing. I was director at a private school, and I used the federal “shopping sheet” award letter format. This format clearly separates types of aid, in addition to including things like the school’s loan default rate. I am a firm believer in doing whatever I can to make financial aid easier to understand. Although use of the shopping sheet is not mandatory, I felt that if more schools would use the federal format, it might be easier for students to compare awards.



Thank you for your valuable input. I regret implying that our experience was representative of what all the private schools do.

I had no idea that the friendly format was called the federal “shopping sheet” format, or even that such format was a product of the federal government.

Now that you have explained that, I see that “In July 2012, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) released the College Financing Plan (formerly known as the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet) and asked institutions to voluntarily commit to using it to supply financial aid information to students in a way that could be understood and compared easily.”

The concept is great. Why do the institutions only have to voluntarily commit to using that format? I think that this format should be made mandatory.

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@NJEngineerDad, I agree with you that it should be mandatory. My school agreed to certain things for veterans benefit recipients, which included using the shopping sheet. I chose to use it for all students because I thought it was a good format. It’s not perfect, but if all schools used it, it would help people compare apples to apples.


I tend to agree with you. Financial aid in my opinion is money that will not have to be paid back.The balance after scholarships and grants should be a subtotal showing the amount still owed. This could be paid through savings, current earnings, outside scholarships, or one can finance the balance. They could at the bottom show the Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans and perhaps suggest other options for loans. However, loans are not financial aid. You owe it to the university.

No, you owe it to the federal government. Loans are available courtesy of the US taxpayers.

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I understand that I may have been a bit unclear. You owe the balance of what is not covered by grants and scholarships to the university. How you finance it is up to you. You can use government loans, private loans, loans from relatives etc.