With the holiday shopping season in full, chaotic swing, you don’t have to look hard to find a sale. I open my email to find advertisements from one store telling me I can get 40% off one item if I shop before the end of the day while another one tells me that I can use their HOLIDAY code to get 35% off all items. Another one offers a staggering 65% off everything in their store. I guess they felt their offer of %50 off, which was sent to me just two days earlier, didn’t drive enough business their way.
With the federal mandate that colleges and universities publish a net price calculator on their website, students can now find similar sales. The net price calculators are supposed to allow you to enter some information about you and your family’s finances to see what the school will actually cost you. Of course, it’s not as simple as just opening your inbox to see today’s great deals. Some schools have made it quite difficult to find their calculators and others have made the process a little daunting and time consuming by requiring that you enter financial information about your family.
Despite some of these difficulties, at the end of the day, this is a step in the right direction. Being able to see what a school may actually end up costing you is valuable information. A school’s price tag should be one of the most critical factors in how a student develops their college list – understanding how a published tuition price can be reduced only allows your college list to be more realistic. You may find out that a school you originally thought you could not afford is now within reach, after running their net price calculator. In my opinion, it is worth the time to find the calculator and enter some information. Wouldn’t you agree?
Here’s a tip on making the process easier: If you’re having trouble finding a school’s calculator, just Google the school’s name and net price calculator. I did this myself with ten randomly chosen schools and each time the search results produced the school’s calculator without fail.
Have you had any experiences with net price calculators? Use the comment form below to share your story!
Eric Dobler is the president and founder of Dobler College Consulting. Follow him on Twitter.