How much will one year of college cost?  State Senator Barbara Buono has introduced legislation that would give families that information by requiring four-year colleges to provide a "financial aid shopping sheet" to students as part of their financial aid package.

"Now, more than ever, cost is a major factor in deciding where and whether to go to college," said Buono.  "But it can be incredibly difficult to accurately compare the financial aid packages offered by different schools.  The 'financial aid shopping sheet' would allow families to more easily compare the actual costs of attending specific colleges."

The sheet would be individualized to each prospective student and provide information on the cost of attendance which would include total cost, total grants and scholarships and the total amount the student would owe for one year of attendance.  The shopping sheet also would provide information on how the student could finance the net cost through work-study funds and federal loans and private loans.  It also would include expected monthly loan payments the student would have upon graduation.

"The financial aid shopping sheet is about providing the most essential information in an easy to understand format," said Buono.  "It's about empowering students and families, as consumers in the higher education marketplace, to take control of financial aid and make smarter decisions."

Another requirement of the 'shopping sheet' would be a comparison between the prospective college and other public and private schools in terms of average cost per year, percentage of students graduating within six years and retention rate of non-graduating students.