The published sticker price is often not the amount that most families will actually have to pay.
The real price of each school for your family will be the sticker price minus the discounts you receive. This discounted price – is commonly referred to as the Net Price.
It all boils down to this basic college cost equation:
Cost of Attendance – Grants & Scholarships = Your Net Price
Or when translated into Plain English:
Sticker Price – Discounts = Your Net Price.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT NET PRICE WILL VARY FROM COLLEGE TO COLLEGE SO YOU MUST RESEARCH EACH INDIVIDUAL SCHOOL.
The Department of Education requires all colleges to provide a tool that helps you estimate the Net Price of Year 1 for individual students. These tools, called Net Price Calculators, vary in quality.
Some produce solid estimates based on up to date school financial aid awarding policy while others produce produce rougher estimates based on median award figures from previous years.
Net Price Calculators (NPC’s) are the logical place to start when you are trying to determine if a college will be affordable. You should run net price estimates for preliminary target schools early in the college search process before spending time and money researching, visiting and applying to schools that will not be affordable.
1. Read the tipsheet on Net Price Calculators.
2. Run Net Price estimates for a few colleges. You can find the link to all school Net Price Calculators at the Net Price Calculator Center.
You can start with:
3. Run estimates for as many colleges – of whatever type – as you want.
4. Save all your estimates and then transfer the information to your Net Price Worksheet.