College Tuition: No longer a guestimate

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College: A time for new beginnings, friends, surroundings, challenges, and a new you. But thinking about the expensive education you’re about to receive and owing $100,000 once  you’re handed your diploma can really put a damper on the excitement of it all.

The truth is, colleges usually post a general tuition price that is beyond what you might actually be paying.

They don’t really take into consideration specific daily expenses, like your mpg for transportation, where you want to live, or if you have a certain diet that’s more expensive than usual.

Thankfully, according to The Seattle Times, starting Saturday October 29, colleges are “required to provide ‘net price calculators’” online to give families a clearer understanding of total costs for their child for the school year.

The ‘net price calculator’ combines the actual cost of room and board, attendance, books, and after taking out the estimated grant aid that school offers per student, to give a total tuition price specific to you.

The Seattle Times article “‘True’ cost of college soon to be just clicks away’,” tells how some schools ask each student about ten questions or more to acquire the cost for them.

The College Board also has their own detailed calculator, with a five-page survey which will be used by many schools across the country that will ask questions regarding “dividend income, contributions to retirement plans, home values and tax deductions.”

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, explains in The Seattle Times article that “these calculators are good for determining whether a school is inside or outside the ballpark (of what you can afford),” but should not be taken as the exact price to the very penny. People should also understand that the tuition can change in next years “even if your financial situation doesn’t change,” says Kantrowiz.

You can find the ‘net price calculator,’ which may also be labeled “financial-aid estimator,” for the school you are looking at either on the homepage of the university or in the financial aid section.

The calculator may not consider recent unemployment or personal or academic scholarships, so if the number provided is a little out of reach, don’t eliminate that school as an option entirely.

This and more information is provided by Seattle Times “‘True’ cost of college soon to be just clicks away.”