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How reliable is Stanford's Net Price Calculator?

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Replies to: How reliable is Stanford's Net Price Calculator?

  • futureinfinancefutureinfinance Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    I am at The Farm for the admit weekend and talked with an FA lady yesterday, again. Still no tangible help or guidance from Stanford on student loans. I detected another trick of Stanford FA office. They kept pushing me to ask my parents to take PLUS loans. They are discouraging loans in my (student's) name. Apparently, Stanford does not want their students to graduate with high debt burdens. Yet they seem perfectly okay to burden parents with high debt. Suddenly I realized that's how Stanford (and many other expensive private colleges) have stats showing their students graduate with an average of less than $25k in student loans. All the big loans are in parents' name and those are not reflected in the stats. (US News ranking: You need to look at parents' loans for sending kids to colleges.) What a game!


    @Mom2jl: "By the way, our family ncome is $130K and our total family contribution is about $25K. Compare that to our FAFSA EFC of $35K."

    The above is interesting. Stanford FA showed me that they use 25% of parents income for EFC. In that case, your EFC would be over $25k just from your income. It looks like you do not have any assets or savings in your name. One would think that someone making over $100k a year will have some savings and assets. Our family live below our means and diligently save for retirement, house, kids' tuition, and rainy days. I guess, just like the experience from the recent housing bailout, savers and people who play by the rules are penalized. Maybe we should start living for the moment, spend lavishly, and never worry about savings ... for savings only hurt, and besides someone always bails you out for your financial mistakes.

    **********
    BTW, The Farm is everything I expected ... beautiful campus and fun people all around.
  • PumpkinPiPumpkinPi Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    Assets in homes and retirement accounts do not count against you in Stanford's financial aid calculations. So if you assume with 150K in income (one wage earner--two wage earners could actually shelter more), that wage earner can put $22,500 into their company retirement account and fund two IRAs at $6,500 each (24% of that income). Every year you can shelter 24% of your income from financial aid calculation. Clearly, one can save without penalty. No one (especially Stanford) is bailing me out for financial mistakes.

    Further, by investing in retirement accounts, one is reducing AGI, hence increasing your ability to qualify for financial aid. So those who do plan ahead and save, taking financial responsibility, are actually rewarded, and are not "bailed out."
  • futureinfinancefutureinfinance Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    @PumpkinPi: "Assets in homes and retirement accounts do not count against you in Stanford's financial aid calculations."

    Stanford looks at equity in home (and I am talking of the main residence, not rental or investment property) in calculating EFC. I know this because my family owns our home outright (paid off mortgage) and it is killing our EFC.

    From Stanford website: "We also consider your family’s assets, including home equity, savings, investments and real estate, but not retirement accounts." Here is the link: The Parent Contribution : Stanford University
  • fall2016parentfall2016parent Registered User Posts: 823 Member
    @futureinfinance - I have been following your posts and I do sympathize..however, did you/your parents not run the EFC calculator before you were admitted. Either be poor or extremely rich...

    But I know most middleclass parents are taking home equity etc to pay for private schools. It is a choice they are making, unfortunately, unless Stanford or other private colleges stop charging these exhorbitant tuition or direct some of that huge endowments to pay for tuition, nothing will change.

    At this point, yes, it is what it is..unfortunately. You said you have 2 other siblings, maybe in the years ahead, with multiple kids in college, perhaps you can ask for a financial aid review. Good luck.
  • littlebuilderlittlebuilder Registered User Posts: 194 Junior Member
    Okay just answering the original question, the net price calculator is not that accurate. When we put in my family's information it said we would get zero aid and pay full tuition. After financial aid reviewed our information following acceptances, I got over 24k in aid which made it possible for me to attend Stanford (this need-based offer even outweighed some merit scholarships at other schools). I would hate to see someone skip on applying for fear of not getting aid.
  • SoCalDad2SoCalDad2 Registered User Posts: 868 Member
    Stanford looks at equity in home (and I am talking of the main residence, not rental or investment property) in calculating EFC. I know this because my family owns our home outright (paid off mortgage) and it is killing our EFC.

    Stanford caps home equity at 1.2 times family income:

    FAQ : Stanford University
  • yolochkayolochka Registered User Posts: 195 Junior Member
    I don't have the numbers with me, but I recall that actual aid was somewhat better than the estimated. We are in the upper middle class range (even though with relatively few assets because we started earning decent salaries only recently), and I consider FA package from Stanford very generous. It was about $1,000 worse than Princeton's FA which had a lower student expectation for the first summer, which means the FAs would be even more similar for next year. We didn't bother to negotiate. Caltech would be several thousand more expensive, and UChicago 8-10 thousand more expensive (both Caltech and UChicago included student loans). In summary, we are happy with Stanford's FA, even though we'll have to make sacrifices. We got an equity line of credit approved just in case: the interest is much better than any other loans.
  • Mom2jlMom2jl Registered User Posts: 600 Member
    Futureinfinance, we do have some assets, including a house which we bought 2 years ago (so not a ton of equity but a reasonable amount given that we put 20% down). We also have decent retirement accounts and rainy day savings as well as 529 college savings accounts for both kids. And, like your family, we don't live beyond our means. My understanding is that Stanford uses a sliding scale to determine the amount a family who makes between $100K and $200K pays for tuition, with a family making $100K paying no tuition and a family making $200K and over paying full price. I don't understand the 25% of income number you quoted. That would mean a family making $100K would have to pay $25K, which is quite a bit more than room and board plus other expenses for the year.
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