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Financial Matters: Net Price Calculators

A visit to a college’s website, and specifically to its Net Price Calculator, is a good way to begin the college search process. The sticker price of many colleges is not really reflective of the cost of that school for a specific student, so utilizing the Net Price Calculator allows families to get a more realistic idea of what they may actually pay.

The Net Price is the amount that a student pays to attend an institution in a single academic year AFTER subtracting scholarships and grants the student receives. Thus, by using the Net Price Calculator that each American institution is required to have on its website, your family can get an estimate of the approximate cost of that college to your family.

You’ll begin by entering basic financial data, grades and test scores on the Net Price Calculator. The Calculator will return an estimate of your eligibility for both need-based and merit-based financial aid at that college. By inputting different variables, students can see the monetary effects of improving their grades or test scores. For example, raising your ACT composite by one point may make you eligible for a higher monetary award. If you do this early in the college search process, you’ll have time to work on improving your grades or test scores so you can increase your eligibility for financial aid.

Keep in mind, however, that the Net Price Calculator provides only an estimate, not a guarantee of aid. And while some calculators can be used by both domestic and international students, others may be limited to US citizens and residents, as is financial aid at many institutions. You can link to colleges’ Net Price Calculators at

To learn more about the Financial Aid process, Call Us at (626)-821-9181 to schedule a free college planning consultation!

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