Net Price Calculators
A net price calculator can be an important tool in helping students and their families determine the true cost of a college education at a particular institution. Institutional flexibility in the creation of the net price calculator is critical to its usefulness to students and families—particularly for those who are considering a private, nonprofit college. This is because each institution has its own aid policies—depending on its resources, mission, and scholarship programs.
The higher education funding model employed by private, nonprofit colleges often produces significantly higher tuition sticker prices than the actual expected payment by a family. “Sticker shock” discourages many students from exploring all their options for higher education. Since many families do not fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) until late in the college application cycle, quite often they do not know what their expected financial commitment will be when considering colleges.
Institutional net price calculators offer a hands-on experience for students to estimate the actual cost of going to a particular college. Net price calculators provide a snapshot of expected costs using real-time data. They offer students and their families the opportunity to properly plan and budget before visiting or applying to a particular institution. Although recent changes to the FAFSA application will help families better estimate their expected family contribution, the net price calculator will remain a vital tool to helping students find their best fit college. In fact, the new College Scorecard directly links to each institutional net price calculator.