Confused about net price calculator output (for Brown)


I am a rising senior who is considering applying to Brown. Financial aid is a huge concern for my family, so I ran its net price calculator just now and I’m quite confused about what I got. The calculator gave me the estimated cost of attendance, estimated grant/gift aid, and then estimated self help. However, there was still a “remaining cost.” What exactly does that mean? Is it unmet need? Because I thought Brown met 100% demonstrated need. I don’t understand how I would be expected to pay that “remaining cost.” My family earns way less than 60K so according to Brown there should be no expected family contribution or loans required to pay for my education if I am able to get accepted.

Here’s a screenshot of what I’m talking about:

Thank you so much in advance!

It is what Brown thinks your family or you can contribute beyond the assumed work earnings.

Since the total net price is under $5,500, you have the option, but not the requirement, of taking a federal direct loan for some or all of it.

@ucbalumnus Okay, but doesn’t Brown have a no loan policy for families earning less than 100K? And I qualify for the no expected parental contribution as well. So my question is that if Brown promises no loans and no parental contribution, how would I meet the price besides working more than the work study they give me? I really confused about this. My parents really cannot afford to pay much at all for my college education so I can only apply to colleges that can give me a really nice financial aid award.

Brown meets full need as they define your full need.
In this case, Brown (like many colleges) has a self-help expectation that students will work part-time and use those funds towards the cost of college. In this case, they expect you to earn $2.750.

Brown determined that – even at your family’s income – they could be expected to contribute $2,660 towards the cost of your college. That seems reasonable – your family will not be spending money to feed you, drive you around, pay for sports or extracurricular activities and so on while you’re in college. Brown looks like a great deal for you if you get in. As ucbalumnus said, you could take a very small student loan if your family is unable to provide any support at all – or you could look at getting a 7-8 hour a week job during the school year.

Nice job with the dropbox posting – you made it easy!

@arabrab Yes, I understand the work study part. But as for the $2660 “remaining cost” after the expected student work earnings are deducted from the price, Brown has a no parental contribution policy as well as a no loans policy for families earning less than $60K. So how would they expect me to pay that amount? Would they expect me to work more in addition to the work study in the FA package?

Where are you getting that as a parental contribution? It’s specifically labelled a student contribution and nothing from the parents. The $2660 is what YOU have to come up with through a summer job or some other way. You have the option of taking a Direct Loan but that’s your decision. The work study is accumulated during the school year. Are you saying you’re not happy with getting a $60K/year education because you would need to fund ~$5K through working?

It does seem a little hokey. In the upper right it says the parent contribution is 0 and the student contribution is 2660. But in the lower left it says the expected self help from work is 2750 and 2660 is the remaining cost. So it does seem that the expected student contribution is 5410.

The NPCs are just estimates. With all schools you won’t get the final awards until you are accepted. Did you input any student savings into the NPC? If you think the results violate the published aid policy you could email the financial aid office and inquire about it.

Brown is incredibly generous but they aren’t going to pay for your textbooks, school supplies, shampoo refills, entertainment and travel. What they’ve left you with is a modest “self-help” portion of tuition (looks about 5 percent which is typical of many “full needs” schools) and your outside spending (which you have control over. You don’t necessarily have to spend that amount.)

The total is quite do-able with summer earnings and a part-time job during the school year. You wouldn’t have to take out a loan if you work and save. Your parents wouldn’t be asked to contribute. This Brown estimate is everything they promise.

What it’s telling you is that you if you do work study and early $2750 your family’s net cost will be $2,660/year. Think about it for a minute. Your family might easily spend $2,660 if you were at home on groceries for you. You could certainly call the Brown financial aid office and ask them to explain the output of the net price calculator but $2,660 is not a lot of money for an Ivy League education. Brown is using the College Board’s net price engine like hundreds of other colleges. Obviously the numbers are different in every case but the output usually looks exactly like this

Does the projected aid from the NPC cover the billable costs to attend Brown? This would be tuition, fees, room , board. Those are billed directly to you by the school.

Does Brown guarantee to meet costs for personal expenses? Some schools do not. These would include books, transportation, and personal expenses (like clothing, toothpaste, etc).

My D at Cornell is expected to make $2800 from work that will go to her portion of our total cost. Overall, we feel very blessed with our package from Cornell. It’s like a dream come true.

^yes they have allocations for all of that. Transp is TBD by mileage from school to home.

@DreamingCookie this is pretty much full coverage. No contribution from your family. You yourself are expected to cover some personal costs through work study during school And you are expected to earn a couple of thousand during the summer to help with the costs of school. So that is “no loans.” Now, if you don’t want to work in the summer or can’t for some reason, you yourself may have access to a loan to cover your expected student portion. I know other schools like Yale expect this student contribution too. You can hardly expect a better package than this anywhere.

So each semester you will be billed for Direct costs of tuition/fee/room/board. You will be short about $1,000 each semester that you will owe Brown up front. Then when you get to school they think you will need about 700 for books and supplies each semester. You can spend less than that by buying used/renting and likely that estimate is over what most students need. When you get to school you find one of the plentiful campus jobs and that will give you a small paycheck to use for your personal expenses during the semester.

Also my daughter moved a couple blocks off campus Jr year. That meant she was still getting the same aid for room/board allocation but was finding cheaper off campus housing and making some of her own meals, so she was able to still receive the same aid. So the 11,994 for room and board was really more like 9,500 and suddenly there was no ‘remaining cost’ to come up with. After you get there you will figure out how to make the budget work for you.

One thing schools are not clear with is your heath insurance. If you are not covered properly by health insurance that fulfills school requirements you must purchase it. That is not included in COA and that will be another 3,000 per year. You can ask Brown if they have a health insurance grant. But otherwise you will have to come up with that or borrow it with student loan. This is true at almost any school too.

If you look at the top, it give a cost to attend of $54xx, which is the WS plus YOUR (not family) contribution.

I’d be concerned about the Pell grant. Maybe you’ll get some, but with a family income of $60k, I doubt you’ll get a full award. Will Brown cover that if it is not awarded? Ask.

Colleges that make those commitments for costs based on family income often (usually) make adjustments based on assets. “Families with income $80K or less with typical assets will not be expected to contribute…” – if your family’s assets are considered by the college to be not typical, they may add some contribution for that amount. Also, the college’s definition of income likely does not exactly agree with your definition of income. They use a much broader definition that you might not have understood.

Brown is incredibly generous but they aren’t going to pay for your textbooks, school supplies, shampoo refills, entertainment and travel. What they’ve left you with is a modest “self-help” portion



^This is very true, but often a surprise to those who truly think that going to college will be “free” for them because they’re from a modest or low income.

Schools typically will include a “student summer work” contribution and work-study, which can be about $5k per year. Typically that’s about the same amount that a student would spend on “personal expenses, travel, and maybe books”. Some schools include a $5500 student loan…that typically covers meal plan, etc.

Schools really do expect the student to cover some of their own costs.

Schools don’t want to pay for (and shouldn’t have to pay for), your toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant…or pizza night or movie night with friends.

Would they expect me to work more in addition to the work study in the FA package?



YES…Work study is for the 9 months during the school year. You’re supposed to also work in the summer.

Oh I see. I am not familiar with the amount that a typical college student can earn while working during the school year and summer so I incorrectly assumed that the $2750 was for both school year and summer. It sounds like I would be able to afford to attend Brown if accepted then, assuming that the estimated personal expenses cover what I would need and I am able to earn at least $5410/year.

Thank you so much to everyone who responded for helping me understand what it meant!

Save the money you are earning from your job this summer to help with college shampoo, etc costs.

We are also on a very generous FA package (from Cornell) and one place my kids have been able to make it work is in the “personal expenses” category. Similar to Cornell, Brown has estimated that you will spend $1846 on shampoo, pizzas, movies with friends, aspirin, and so on, and that $2660 includes that. My kids are very used to pinching pennies and can cut their personal expenses to a fraction of what Cornell estimated they would need. If you can do that too, you will eliminate a big part of that $2660.

For example, your biggest personal expense will likely be your cell phone. If you can get by with a pay as you go plan, maybe with a dumb phone, that will save a lot of $.