Net Price Calculators

Students: Why do you need to know about Net Price Calculators? Have you ever wondered what it might cost to go to a particular college? Have you ever wondered how much scholarship a school might give you, given your financial and academic history? Wait no more! As of October 29, 2011 the federal government required that all colleges accepting first-time, full-time students must post Net Price Calculators to their websites. They did this to try and increase transparency about how much it will actually cost to attend an institution.

Wait, But What is a Net Price Calculator? The Net Price Calculator must, at a minimum, show consumers a historical (historical=data from an entire prior year) median net price after gift aid (scholarships and grants that don't need to be paid back) for that institution. To get to that median net price, the colleges must first determine their COA (cost of attendance). Every college in the country must show students and families the cost of attendance, broken up into:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Books and supplies
  • Transportation and miscellaneous expenses (ex: laptop fee)

Where Can I Go to Learn More?

  • If you would like to learn more about Net Price Calculators you can visit the National Center for Educational Statistics website at:
  • You also can check out a great tool licensed by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and powered by the National Center for College Costs: The Indiana College Costs Estimator. There, you can access information that will teach you more about saving for, applying to, paying for, and surviving college. And most importantly, you can calculate college costs for almost every Indiana public or private institution. Click here to access this tool.

The National Center for College Costs' Net Price Calculator Solution for Colleges/Universities

"Working with the team from the National Center for College Costs for our school's Net Price Calculator has been a breeze! Initially when beginning the preparations for the new federal requirement to post a net price calculator, it seemed a bit overwhelming and we didn't really know where to begin. But utilizing the National Center for College Costs relieved all of those concerns and the team has been with us every step of the way as we set up and upate our data." Tiesha Walker, Assistant Director of Financial Aid, Calumet College of St. Joseph

The National Center for College Costs’ newest product is the Net Price Calculator, a customizable tool that allows students and their families to gather estimates of “net price” at individual colleges. The term “net price” refers to an estimate of what a student might pay to attend a college or university, after subtracting financial aid from the cost of attendance. As of October 29, 2011, colleges and universities serving first-time, full-time undergraduate students across the country were required by the federal government to post a Net Price Calculator on their websites.

"We began working with Dave Murray and the National Center for College Costs in preparation for going live with our net price calculator. Throughout the process, we were most pleased with the collaborative way in which his staff worked with us and with our consultants to develop an NPC that met both the federal regulations and our need for accurately conveying the affordability of a Valparaiso education. We are pleased with the product!" Phyllis Schroeder, Director of Financial Aid, Valparaiso University

How It Works

By using the National Center for College Costs’ Net Price Calculator, a college can provide prospective students with an accurate estimate of net price. The Net Price Calculator estimates an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for each user and collects select academic information, yielding a more complete assessment of a student’s potential financial aid eligibility. The result? Better information for the user and a more accurate picture of the college’s financial aid tendencies.

Key Features Include:

  • Detailed estimates of Expected Family Contribution to more accurately assess potential aid eligibility – federal, state and institutional
  • Easy-to-use student interface with built-in explanations and technical guidance
  • Step-by-step process for easy entry of institutional aid data
  • Auto-provided paragraphs and text, with editing options, to make customization faster and easier for institutions
  • Ability to incorporate unique institutional aid factors, such as use of an alternate methodology, when necessary
  • Standard option to capture user information, with permission, for the purposes of admission follow-up
  • Standard analytics and reporting options to show where users are coming from geographically, average aggregate financial profiles of users, and more
  • Competitive pricing with discounts for multi-year license agreements 

For institutions looking for a more robust solution to the net price calculator requirement than the minimal federal template provided by the Department of Education but not sure they care to incur the time and expense of creating and maintaining one internally, our Net Price Calculator may be the solution. Contact the National Center for College Costs today to learn more, including how the Net Price Calculator can be customized for your institution and integrated into your admissions activities!

"It's been a pleasure to work with Dave Murray and the National Center for College Costs on the development of our net price calculator. The calculator provides an accurate and easy to complete tool for families with the added advantage of providing prospects for the University." Linda B. Handy, Director of Financial Aid, University of Indianapolis