SUNY Potsdam Adopts New Standard Financial Aid Award Letter


The State University of New York at Potsdam has joined the rest of SUNY’s 64 campuses in adopting a new standard Financial Aid Award Letter for the 2013-14 academic year. As part of the SUNY Smart Track™ campaign, the system is committed to college cost transparency and reducing student debt.

SUNY Potsdam’s Office of Financial Aid is working on incorporating the new standardized letter into the materials that accepted students receive.

“The SUNY Potsdam Office of Financial Aid is committed to working closely with prospective students and their parents to demystify the financial aid process. The new standard award document will enhance the comprehensive information that the College already provides to accepted students, so that they can make informed decisions about whether the Potsdam handcrafted education is the best fit for them,” said Director of Financial Aid Susan C. Merchant.

The new award 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. SUNY is the first and largest public system of higher education nationally to implement such a tool for students and families.

“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, Chancellor Zimpher announced that SUNY Smart Track™ would contribute to a wider system-wide goal of decreasing the loan default rate of SUNY students by at least five 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.

Samples of the standard award letters that will be used, for resident and commuting students, are available online.

SUNY Potsdam’s Office of Financial Aid is committed to helping students and their families identify the financial resources they are eligible for, and developing plans to provide for the extraordinary investment of higher education. For more information, visit

About SUNY Potsdam:
Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts. To learn more, visit

About SUNY:
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States, educating approximately 468,000 students in more than 7,500 degree and certificate programs, and nearly 2 million in workforce and professional development programs, on 64 campuses. There are nearly 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit