February 20, 2013

SUNY Empire State College Adopts State University’s Standardized Financial Aid Award Letter

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Feb. 20, 2013) SUNY Empire State College today announced today that it will join all of the SUNY system’s 64 campuses and put in place a new, standardized financial-aid letter from the State University of New York.

The college will use the letter for the 2013-14 academic year as part of the SUNY Smart Track™ campaign, a commitment to transparency in college financing.

The new letter will allow students and their families to see clearly the cost of attendance and financial-aid offerings at each campus, including campus-specific information such as graduation rate, median borrowing and loan default rate

“Making it easier to compare college costs will be a great benefit for students interested in attending Empire State College,” said Acting President Meg Benke. “Consistency and transparency in the financial-aid process will help bring forward the value of an Empire State College degree and help prospective students to make informed decisions.”

“While college students across the country are taking on more loan debt than ever before, SUNY Smart Track™ gives our prospective students the most comprehensive and transparent financial-aid information available so that they can make informed decisions about how to pay for their college education,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “The standard award letter will allow prospective students and their families to easily compare colleges within SUNY and view a full outline of the financial commitment associated with their education.”

Development of the standard financial-aid award letter was first announced when SUNY launched its Smart Track™ campaign in September. With the launch, SUNY adopted the concept of transparency of financial aid and college costs, and the system began offering students the most proactive, comprehensive financial-aid information and services in the country.

More recently, in the 2013 State of the University address, Zimpher announced that SUNY Smart Track™ would contribute to a systemwide goal of decreasing the loan default rate of SUNY students by at least 5 percent over the next five years.

The average indebtedness of a SUNY graduate is $22,575, well below the national average of $26,600. The vast majority of SUNY student loan borrowers repay their loans successfully.

The SUNY Smart Track™ award letter was developed by a committee of campus financial aid directors, and others, who were tasked with adopting the intent of the federal financial aid shopping sheet while creating a unique version for SUNY. Additionally, the campaign calls for an expansion of SUNY’s student loan service center, early engagement of students at risk of default, and providing new and improved online resources such as a net price calculator, chats with financial aid experts and financial literacy materials.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career. Students engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace they choose.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in New York state and online. Its 66,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more. More information about the college is available here.


Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

518-587-2100, ext. 2918


518-321-7038 (after 5 p.m. and on weekends)