Black Hills State University is announcing its involvement in the College Cost Transparency Initiative (CCT), a coalition of more than 360 institutions of higher education that have voluntarily committed to follow 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. 
“By partnering with the College Cost Transparency Initiative, BHSU will join a community of institutions that wants to provide the best experience for current and future students,” said Tirzah Knight, director of Financial Aid at BHSU. “The resources we will have access to will help us create clear and understandable communication as we connect with our students and their families, so they have the information to make informed decisions about their higher education costs.” 
The commitment comes as lawmakers, think tanks, and government entities continue to review the way colleges and universities present financial aid offers 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).  “Some standard terminology and clear requirements on what is to be included in financial aid offers is important. Colleges and universities are committing to give students and families the information they need.” 
Moving forward, the College Cost Transparency Initiative will be managed by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). This work is generously sponsored by a grant from Strada Education Foundation. 
The principles and standards provide that financial aid offers to undergraduate students: 
  • 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 today 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. 
For more information about financial aid at BHSU, contact the Office of Financial Aid at or (605) 642-6145.