The college costs estimation helps parents and students to make college enrollment decisions. That’s why every college and university offer an online net price calculator. In this article we will explain in detail about what is net price calculator and how to use a net price calculator?
To use a net price calculator, you need to provide information about family, income, taxes and assets as well as student’s academic history. The net price of attendance is calculated by subtracting the financial aid and grants for which a student is eligible from the college’s total cost including tuition fee, accommodation and books.
Cost is one of the most confusing variables in higher education. For example, the College Board recently reported a difference of more than $ 20,000 between moderately priced public colleges and comparable schools. These figures are pretty daunting, and they often discourage many students from applying to college at all. For some students, simply trying to figure out how to get money for college is enough to prevent them from enrolling.
But despite fears of high costs, millions of students pay far less than the national average, depending on the school they choose, their degree program, whether they attend an in-state or out-of-state institution, and their funding options. It’s entirely possible, for example, to pay less than $ 5,000 a year for tuition at a great school, or pay very low tuition at a community college to save money before transferring to a higher-priced public or private institution.
It is not uncommon for the difference between original price and net price to be 50% or more, making higher education affordable for people who think they will never be able to afford it. The key to determining and reducing college costs is understanding the difference between the label price and the net cost of a college. The difference between the two can be dramatic:
- Sticker Price: The sticker price is the figure that the university advertises as the total cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, and living expenses. However, discounts on tuition, financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships, and different housing options mean that students very rarely pay the published “tag price”.
- Net Price: The net price is the actual cost that a student will pay in tuition, housing, and related fees after all discounts, financial aid, scholarships, grants, and living expenses are calculated in the price tag. This is the figure you should pay attention to.
Now you know that the net price is the actual number you need to calculate. Since 2011, all US universities are required to include a “net price calculator” on their websites, so that families and students can get an idea of the cost of studying.
Step by Step Procedure to use Net Price Calculator
To use the net price calculator, please follow the following instructions:
- Gather information and documents related to family income, most recent tax returns and bank statements and assets. Also gather information about the academic history of the student.
- Find the net price calculator of the college of your choice. You can google the name of the college and net price calculator or you can visit the US Department of Education website and quickly search for the name of your college. You can also find a comprehensive list of net price calculators from here.
- Plug the required information in the net price calculator. Most net price calculators will require 15-20 minutes to fill out.
- The results you get from the net price calculator will help you in determining the actual college attendance costs.
Academics and Test Scores Impact on Net Price
Net price calculators can also be used to see the impact of academics and test scores on the financial aid package and merit-based scholarships. You can manipulate certain variables to see the impact on the potential annual award.
This will help students and their parents to figure out if student need to retake the SAT or ACT again. If a higher SAT score significantly reduce the college attendance fee, its better to retake SAT.
Use College Scorecard to Find the Best College
You can also do some “one-stop shopping” on the US Department of Education Center for College Affordability and Transparency website, which includes a College Scorecard. The scorecard allows you to search a wide variety of colleges based on the following criteria:
- Location (state, region, zip code)
- Title and specialty or occupation you wish to enter
- School size and campus environment (rural, urban, suburban)
- Financial awards offered by the school
Once you decide the type of school you want to attend and select the appropriate options, the scorecard will provide you with a list of schools that meet your criteria. When you click on each school, a new page will open with the school’s costs (average net price), graduation rate, loan default rate, and average loan (average amount of student loans per student).
Things to keep in mind
The results you get from the College Scorecard or Net Price Calculator are a great place to start determining your college costs. However, you can further reduce your own costs in a number of ways. For example,
- If you decide to live at home with your family while you attend college, your living expenses will certainly be lower than if you lived on campus or in an apartment.
- You can save money on textbooks by renting them or by choosing courses that offer free textbooks online.
- Many funding sources may not be included in a cost calculator that only includes funding offered by the school. Look for private scholarships and grants to lower your college costs.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are in control of your own college choices and can tailor your education to your budget. With a little research on the different variables that can affect net price, you can find the right school at the right price.