Today I’m sharing a conversation that I had yesterday with Amy Seldin, the founder of College Abacus.
College Abacus is the place that I’d recommend heading to when you want to use any college or university’s net price calculator.
If you don’t know what a net price calculator is, here is a brief description:
A net price calculator will provide you with a personalized estimate of what a college or university will cost you after scholarships and grants (free money) is deducted from the cost of attendence. When using a calculator, some families will discover that the cost of a $50,000 college will be $30,000, $20,000 or lower. For other families, the cost really will be $50,000.
Whatever the verdict, it’s important to know what the price will be before your child falls in love with any school – if you don’t want to pay full price. I urge parents to use net price calculators long before their teenagers apply to colleges.
Traditionally parents never learned what the net prices were until the late winter or spring when their children received their financial aid packages or merit awards. If the awards were puny or nonexistent, there wasn’t any time for students to apply to a new batch of schools. Using net price calculators can eliminate those nasty surprises.
What I like about College Abacus is that you don’t have to go to every school’s website to use the institution’s calculator. You can provide all the information one time on College Abacus, store it and then access any calculators you want from the website. Seldin calls her site the Kayak of college pricing.
College Abacus is free, but generating net prices will be even easier if you use the paid service called Abacus100. For $75 you can obtain the personalized financial estimate for the top 100 universities or top 100 liberal arts colleges ranked by U.S. News & World. You can obtain both lists for $100. College Abacus will send you a spreadsheet with all the prices.