Required for Nearly a Year, Many College Net Price Calculators Still Hard to Find, Use, Compare

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on October 5, 2012

News release: “Since October 2011, nearly all U.S. colleges have been required to post “net price calculators” on their websites. Based on an in-depth look at 50 randomly selected colleges’ calculators, a new report from The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) found that many of these online tools are difficult for prospective college students and their families to find, use, and compare. Congress required net price calculators to ensure that consumers could look past “sticker price” and get an early, individualized estimate of what a specific college might cost them. Net price is the full cost of attendance minus expected grants and scholarships, and it can be much lower than the sticker price. In a recent poll, the majority of students surveyed ruled out colleges based on sticker price alone. Adding It All Up 2012: Are College Net Price Calculators Easy to Find, Use, and Compare? examines the state of net price calculators nearly a year after the federal requirement. It analyzes them from the perspective of students and families, who might not otherwise know that a college is within or beyond their financial reach…The report urges the Department of Education to provide the guidance and enforcement necessary to ensure that colleges make their net price calculators more user friendly, so prospective students and their families can make more informed decisions about which colleges to apply to and attend.”

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