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Predicting the cost of colleges can be tricky. Sometimes, students will fall in love with a school that doesn’t give enough aid to make it affordable. And other times, families won’t even consider schools that may give generous grants to lower the price. By utilizing a net price calculator, you can make informed decisions when choosing schools to apply to.

What Is It?

A net price calculator predicts the net price (the amount you pay to go to college after subtracting scholarships and grants that you receive from the school.) Keep in mind, this amount is only for one academic year. Colleges are required by law to provide this type of calculator on their website.

Flaws with the Net Price Calculator

Net price calculators vary from one school to another. Some may use updated financial information and others may use data from previous years. Some may ask specific questions to give you a more exact estimate and others may give an overall general evaluation. Because of these different distinctions, it can be really difficult to compare these prices. It may also be challenging to locate the calculators on college’s websites. If you experience trouble, try clicking on the admissions section or financial aid pages. These net prices are also typically intended for full-time incoming freshman, not necessarily transfer students or part-time students.

Net price calculators can be a great way to open up a dialogue about financial aid and affordability with your family. Though it has its imperfections, this could be a useful tool in getting a sense of the price you’ll pay for your first year of college. Who knows, you may discover schools that you might not have otherwise considered!