Net Price Calculators: Focus on Net Price, Not Sticker Price

by | Aug 11, 2021

by Big Future

College may seem expensive. But the truth is that most students pay less than their college’s sticker price, or published price, thanks to financial aid. So instead of looking at the published price, concentrate on your net price — the real price you’ll pay for a college.

What Is Net Price?

Your net price is a college’s sticker price for tuition and fees minus the grants, scholarships, and education tax benefits you receive. The net price you pay for a particular college is specific to you because it’s based on your personal circumstances and the college’s financial aid policies.

Colleges you thought were out of your reach may turn out to be affordable.

What Is a College Net Price Calculator?

A college net price calculator is a free online tool that gives you a personalized estimate of net price.

Check out net price calculators for hundreds of colleges.

Why Are Net Price Calculators Important?

By providing personalized estimates, net price calculators offer a more informed way of deciding which colleges you can afford. Knowing your net price:

  • Gives you the best idea of what you’ll pay for a particular college
  • Makes comparing colleges easier
  • Widens your choice of colleges so you can focus on fit instead of price

How Do Net Price Calculators Work?

A college’s net price calculator asks you questions about your family’s finances and may also ask you questions about your GPA, test scores, activities, and other things that may qualify you for financial aid. It uses your answers to figure out how much money in grants and scholarships the college is likely to award you. It then subtracts that number from the full cost of attendance to estimate how much the college might really cost you.

Many net price calculators also provide information about other kinds of financial aid you might be offered. These include loans and work-study jobs.


As you use net price calculators:

  • Answer each question as accurately as possible. The more accurate your numbers, the more accurate the result.
  • Remember that these are estimates. The actual price you pay may be higher or lower than the college’s net price calculator estimate.
Weil College Advising

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