Explainer~What are Net Price Calculators?

2 little kids reading about net price calculators

What does it mean?

Colleges provide Net Price Calculators (NPC) so that students can estimate their cost of attendance based on their financial status. Colleges are required to provide an estimate based on the what other students have paid with similar financial situations. The cost includes deducting any need-based grant aid that the student is likely to qualify for but not loans. The number generated by the NPC does not include any possible loans or work-study students may qualify for.

How does it affect how much you pay for college?

Families can use Net Price Calculators to estimate how much financial aid students are likely to receive from colleges. Since most colleges don’t meet 100% of need, NPCs allow students to see how much of their financial need is likely to be met. Also, NPCs will indicate whether or not a PROFILE school includes home equity in its financial aid calculations. By using NPCs, families can avoid schools that provide only limited need-based aid.

All colleges are required to post the Net Price Calculators but some are not easy to find. CollegeNavigator includes a link to the school’s NPC. If the link is outdated, try searching on the school name and “net price calculator.”

Where can you learn more?

U.S. Department of Education Net Price Calculator Center

Net Price Calculators-discusses some of the flaws of Net Price Calculators

How Colleges Give Students a Flawed Sense of Living Costs

FAQ: What are Net Price Calculators?

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