Oakton Joins National Initiative on College Cost Transparency

Oakton will ensure transparency, clarity and understanding around student financial aid offers.
Des Plaines (Sept. 26, 2023) - Oakton College has joined the College Cost Transparency Initiative (CCT), a coalition of more than 360 institutions of higher education that have voluntarily committed to follow a set of principles and standards that ensure transparency, clarity and understanding around student financial aid offers. Together, these institutions serve more than 3.5 million college students in the U.S.

“Students and families need upfront, accurate and clear information when making decisions about college,” said Peter McPherson, chair of the CCT task force and president emeritus of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). “Some standard terminology and clear requirements on what is to be included in financial aid offers is important. Colleges and universities are committing to give students and families the information they need.”

The monumental commitment comes as lawmakers, think tanks and government entities continue to scrutinize the financial aid offers that colleges and universities present to students. The principles and standards recommended by the CCT — a task force composed of the leaders of 10 higher education associations representing college presidents, financial aid offices, and admissions and school counselors — respond to the needs of students and families in a nuanced and careful manner.

The CCT will be managed by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). A grant from the Strada Education Foundation sponsors the work.

“We are committed to making sure that students and families get the information they need to make informed decisions about paying for college,” said Justin Draeger, president and CEO of NASFAA. “If this project has shown us anything, it’s that this work is complex, but can be done when institutional leaders and practitioners come together to make college cost transparency a priority. We look forward to continuing to recruit more higher education institutions to the initiative.”

The principles and standards provide that financial aid offers to undergraduate students:
  • Are transparent, ensuring that costs are understandable for students and families, and include the most accurate estimate possible of a student’s costs.
  • Describe and explain all types of aid offered using standardized, plain language.
  • Prominently display critical components, including the following:
    • an estimate of the student’s total cost of attendance, broken down by costs to be paid to the institution and costs paid to others;
    • types and sources of financial aid being offered, separated into grants and scholarships, student loans, and student employment or work;
    • an estimated net price.
  • Follow U.S. Department of Education guidance regarding Parent PLUS Loans.
  • Provide information about employment requirements and information on job placement if student employment is offered.
  • Explain the terms and conditions and information on how much student loan debt may cost over time if federal student loans are included.

The CCT released a set of financial aid offer examples that meet the initiative’s principles and standards for institutions to use in developing or updating their aid offers and a glossary of common financial aid terms and definitions.