Reforms pushed for college aid--Gillibrand backs simplified application forms

With student loan debts overshadowing credit cards and auto loans, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is moving to require that U.S. colleges use a new, reportedly easier-to-understand student aid form.

The new student aid form was rolled out by the Obama administration Tuesday. It’s intended to disclose the full cost of a college education, including direct and indirect costs for the entire anticipated course of study, according to Gillibrand.

Gillibrand is working toward requiring all schools that accept federal money use the form. This legislation would also establish uniform terminology on financial aid forms, Gillibrand said.

“What we’ve seen is students just don’t have an easy way to compare what’s being offered, and also there’s not clarity about what’s being offered and all the costs,” she said in a telephone press conference.

Effects would be felt at Cornell University and Ithaca College.

Ithaca College’s undergraduate class of 2012 borrowed an average of $23,849 in federal student loans alone, according to the college. Undergraduate tuition increased 4.9 percent for the 2012-13 academic year, bringing the freshman class’ total estimated cost of attendance to $50,400, according to the college’s website.

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