Bucknell Joins National Initiative on College Cost Transparency

October 2, 2023

by Mike Ferlazzo

Malesardi Quadrangle, which includes the iconic Bertrand Library clock tower, is located above Freas Hall, home to Bucknell Admissions. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

Bucknell University has joined the College Cost Transparency Initiative (CCT), a coalition of more than 360 institutions of higher education that have voluntarily committed to following 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 United States.

President John Bravman emphasized the importance of the college decision, stating that "Opting for higher education represents a major financial choice for students and their families. Understanding the upfront costs is vital, and Bucknell is dedicated to providing students precise financial details."

The 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.

"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).

Erin Wolfe

Erin Wolfe, director of financial aid. Photo by Gordon R. Wenzel

"Some standard terminology and clear requirements on what is to be included in financial aid offers are important. Colleges and universities are committing to give students and families the information they need."

"By joining the College Cost Transparency Initiative, we joined a community of institutions that want to provide the best and most transparent experience for future and current students," said Erin Wolfe, Bucknell's director of financial aid.

"We committed to creating a clear and understandable communication to help our families make informed financial decisions."

Moving forward, the College Cost Transparency Initiative will be managed by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). This work is sponsored by a grant from the Strada Education Foundation.

"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 ensure that financial aid offers:

  • 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, such as 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; and more.
  • Follow U.S. Department of Education guidance with regard to referencing 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 also 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.