Rice University and the University of Houston are two of over 360 universities that plan to provide more financial aid transparency for students.
Students applying to partnered universities will see the same language in each financial aid package to more easily compare the out-of-pocket cost of college.
"Students and families need transparency, consistency, and clarity when colleges and universities communicate their student financial aid offers so that they are able to make informed decisions about enrolling in and affording higher education," U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release. "Unfortunately, financial aid offers are often confusing and, in some cases, misleading. I welcome efforts like the College Cost Transparency Initiative's Principles and Standards that provide clarity when communicating these offers."
According to the guidelines from the initiative, financial aid offers from partnered universities must now "unambiguously" label loans. Offers also need to clearly state if financial aid will be offered once or on an ongoing basis.
"Information, either on the financial aid offer or by an easily identified and accessible web link, explaining whether the financial aid is being offered once or on an ongoing basis, and if the aid is renewable, any requirements that must be met for renewal," the initiative wrote on the website.
Amy Dittmar is Rice University's Howard R. Hughes Provost. She said while Rice University already provided much of the standards the initiative asks for, it will make choosing a college easier for students.
"It will be consistent in the way it's communicated across universities," Dittmar said. "So, though it may not change a lot that Rice is doing in the way that it's already been transparent, it means that when a student is trying to decide between a couple institutions, they'll be able to really look at what their cost is."
MORE: Dittmar discusses the cost of college on Houston Matters
She said the initiative can also encourage younger, and particularly low-income, students to apply to colleges.
"Thinking, ‘oh, there's no way I could go to Rice cause I couldn't afford that', the simplicity and the transparency that Rice provides, and many institutions, allows those students even younger to really try to reach for those goals," she said.
Other Texas universities that are part of the initiative include Texas A&M, Baylor and the University of Texas at Arlington. The full list of colleges can be found online.