The University of Cincinnati is providing you a shopping sheet as part of the Principles of Excellence, a presidential directive for the U.S. Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education to establish a set of principles to enhance consumer protection for service members, veterans, and other military personnel and their families regarding the use of veteran and military education benefits.
The shopping sheet is not meant to replace the award offer that UC or any other school provides. Instead, it is a tool whereby prospective undergraduate students are provided a clear, direct comparison between participating schools as they make a college choice.
Because the shopping sheet is used at a variety of schools, some information may be presented differently than an individual institution may normally discuss cost and aid options.
The shopping sheet divides and displays costs and aid in some rather unique ways. It is important to understand the breakdown of the information in order to make the shopping sheet as helpful as possible.
- Estimated Cost of Attendance – These are your budgeted UC costs for an academic year, including estimations for billed (tuition and fees) and non-billed (off-campus rent, books, etc.) items. While some cost areas may be more or less expensive based on your personal choices, this amount is an estimation of your costs when looking at similar students.
- Grants and Scholarships – The "Grants from your school" actually includes both grants and scholarship offers made by UC. "Other scholarships" are awards you are bringing with you to UC that have been shared with Student Financial Aid.
- Net Costs – Again, this amount is an estimate and only takes the total estimated cost of attendance (including many non-billed expenses) and subtracts grants and scholarships. The form requires this comparison. However, net costs are more often calculated as out-of-pocket expenses by looking at your billed expenses minus all other aid resources (including loans and other resources). Including non-billed expenses (such as known housing, meal, book, and other costs) will help shape your overall budgeting process.
- Work Options – Work-study is awarded via the financial aid award offer. Other work options exit as well.
- Loan Options – Contrary to what is written on the Shopping Sheet, UC cannot recommend but can only display eligible loan amounts up to the estimated costs minus known aid. UC cannot recommend an amount to borrow as we do not know your total resources (to include family gifts or assistance, employment assistance programs, veteran's education benefits, etc.). With planning, students can accept a reduced loan amount. We recommend borrowing the lowest loan amount you can in order to make post-college life easier. Examine your expenses as well as all resources when creating your budget to determine how much (if any) loan funding you elect to pursue.
- Other Options – Your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is the indexed amount determined by your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA looks at income (and in limited fashion at assets) to put everyone on a similar playing field. The EFC is a number used to gage your financial aid eligibility at UC and other schools. Your unique circumstances and financial aid eligibility will affect the actual amount you contribute toward your education. Also listed in this section are general ways in which students have sought to meet college expenses. Your situation and eligibility for listed items and programs will vary.
The blocks on the right-hand side of the Shopping Sheet offer the latest averages for graduation rate, loan default, and loan borrowing. These numbers are indications. As with any average, there are those students who are below these marks and others who are above them.
It is important to work closely with your academic advisors and other college personnel to understand your degree requirements and map out a plan to achieve your goals in the shortest amount of time. Whether you are going full-time or part-time, ensuring you are taking only those classes you need and doing so in an appropriate sequence will insure academic success and a speedy graduation.
Loan borrowing should be kept at a minimum. Doing so will make for more manageable monthly loan repayments and avoid default. As well, statistics show that the students who do not complete their degree or work closely with their loan servicing agencies when they are having financial difficulty are more likely to experience loan default. Loan servicing agencies will help you avoid default and the negative consequences of having a federal loan default on your credit report.
The shopping sheet can be helpful as a direct comparison tool between schools. However, as stated, it does not replace your understanding of awarded aid, eligibility requirements, and overall costs you will encounter.
We encourage you to use the information and many resources within the financial aid Website as you prepare for the expense of college. Staff are always willing to assist you as well at our various service locations.
You are not alone in the aid process. Please seek out assistance so that you can have a more planful approach to each semester ahead.