Making college more accessible—and affordable—for all Americans

Improving transparency and accountability

In the interest of transparency and accountability, I’ve tasked my administration with giving students and families new tools and information that will help them make sound financial decisions in pursuing their higher-education goals.

Creating a Financial Aid Shopping Sheet: The Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have launched the “Know Before You Owe” campaign to create a model financial aid disclosure form—the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet—to help students understand the type and amount of aid they qualify for and easily compare aid packages offered by different schools. This model form is an individualized standard financial aid award letter that will help students and families understand the costs of college before making the final decision on where to enroll. The Shopping Sheet is being voluntarily adopted by colleges and universities across the country for the 2013-14 academic year.

Designing a college scorecard: As part of the “Know Before You Owe” campaign, we’ve also designed a College Scorecard containing key indicators of student success and financial outcomes about every higher-education institution nationwide. This new report card will make it easier for students and families to choose a college that is best suited to their goals, finances, and needs.

Protecting our veterans, military spouses, and their families: My “Executive Order Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members” provides new protections to help ensure they have the information they need to succeed in higher education. The Principles of Excellence—which will apply to a variety of military and veteran education benefits, including the GI Bill, Tuition Assistance Program, and Military Spouse Career Advancement Account Program—cracks down on improper online recruiting practices, improves support service, provides better data about educational institutions, and strengthens enforcement of student protections. I believe we must do all we can to protect veterans from deceptive practices, and these steps will help ensure that federal military and veteran’s education dollars are well spent.

(Adapted from speeches and text on the White House website.)