Publication | March 15, 2011

Adding It All Up: An Early Look at Net Price Calculators

By the end of October, U.S. colleges must meet a federal requirement to create online “net price calculators.” These calculators are intended to help prospective students and their families gauge college affordability, providing early individualized estimates of what particular colleges will cost them after grants and scholarships. We took an early look at how colleges are approaching this requirement and found mixed results for how easy the calculators were to find, use, and understand. Our report offers a series of recommendations for making net price calculators as helpful as possible for students and their families as they weigh important decisions about going to college and how to pay for it.