Economic News, Student Loans

Universities Are Required to Publish Net-Price Calculators

It is no secret that college is expensive.  In fact, the costs just keep going up.  What used to be a secret is that the actual cost of tuition was hard to determine.  The colleges would post their costs, but the true cost to the student was fairly hidden until they got the bill.  But now colleges are required to put net-price calculators on their sites.  The result is that students will have a much more accurate picture of how much they can expect to spend on their education.

Straight tuition rates really do not apply to all students.  In fact, very few students will ever pay the full sticker price for their education.  Instead most will qualify for some grants and scholarships that will actually bring down the overall cost of their college experience.  In order to see what the calculator looks like, I went to the Montana State University website, and looked at the home page.  I then looked at the prospective student page.  And then I looked at the tuition page, and the financial aid page.  Finally, I did a search for “calculator” and was taken to the Montana State University Calculator page.  After answering a few simple demographic and economic questions, I was given a breakdown of the costs, and the amount that I could reasonably expect to receive in financial aid (not including loans).

The overall effect of this new policy requiring more transparency in costs will hopefully encourage more people to apply for college.  If they know they can get scholarships and grants, they will be more willing to apply in the first place.  This policy will help students, and parents, be better prepared for college because they will now know a more reasonable financial expectation.

Knowing more accurately what college will cost helps in several ways.  Parents and students can make plans to save more money now in order to help offset the amount of student loans needed.  In a time when student loan balances are increasing dramatically it is important for people to know and understand what they are getting into with their college expenses.  Preparing now will help more graduates come out of college debt free.

With the costs of college ever rising, it is important to know just how much you will be expected to pay.  Using the net-cost calculator that every college is now required to have on their website, a person can figure out just how much they can expect to qualify for in grants and other student aid.  If you are putting off college because of the cost, check out your school of choice and see if it as bad as you thought.  You never know, getting an education may just be within your grasp.