Have you tried out any college cost calculators yet?
If you haven’t, I’d urge to to get started. I experimented with some net price calculators recently and I wanted to share my experience.
The purpose of these so-called net price calculators is to help you determine how much a college is going to cost your family by generating a personalized estimate. These calculators are going to be revolutionary because for the first time teenagers and their parents can form a good idea of ow much a school will cost before they ever apply. You can learn more about net price calculators in my previous college blog posts:
Schools aren’t required to post their calculators on their websites until Oct. 29, but some have already installed them. I tried out three of the cost calculators that I found on the College Board, which is one of the higher-ed players which are creating these tools.
The first calculator I tried belonged to Claremont McKenna College, a liberal arts school in Claremont, CA. Here are some of the figures that I plugged in for a hypothetical family with one college-bound teen and another younger child in high school.
- Parents’ income: $125,000
- Cash/checking: $25,000
- Home equity: $150,000
- Non-retirement assets: $50,000
- Itemized deductions: $18,000
- Latest year’s contributions to 401(k) plans: $8,000
Claremont McKenna College
The calculator estimated that this family would receive $27,721 in grant (free money) assistance from Claremont McKenna. I think many families making $125,000 with decent home equity are going to assume they wouldn’t get any need-based financial aid, but the calculator clearly shows that this isn’t true in this case. Claremont McKenna has a excellent financial aid policy so this family would not receive this much assistance at most colleges.
I used the same hypothetical family with the same finances for Syracuse University and look at the results:
When you look at Syracuse University’s estimate, the family would receive $14,600 for the student’s freshman year. Clearly this school isn’t as generous as Clarement McKenna.
New York Film Academy
For my last example, I used the same numbers for my hypothetical couple for New York Film Academy, which costs a little bit more than Claremont McKenna. The difference in awards is stunning.
Remarkably, New York Film Academy would not give this family any money at all! The school did insert a $5,500 federal loan in the financial package. Big deal.
Using just three calculators for my imaginary family, I obtained three very different answers. I hope this convinces you that you need to take advantage of the net price calculators before applying to any colleges or universities.