How accurate are the Financial Aid Net Price Calculators vs. FAFSA - UCs and CSUs

I’m just starting to figure out the financial aid heading into senior year. When I did a net price calculator for UC Irvine, it said that I was projected to only pay 11,000 in total, which would be cheaper than a CSU(according the website, and I don’t get financial help from them based on their calculator, estimating around 20,000 in totalr).
So is it possible that with financial aid that a UC could end up being cheaper with financial aid? How accurate really are the estimators?

^ Yes, that would be true. UC’s have better financial aid. The calculators for both are pretty accurate since their formula is quite simple/uses FAFSA information only.

Yes what Lilliana said is right as a generality, but first please clarify. You are instate, right? Are you eligible for Calgrant?

It seems like the calculator for UC is assuming a calgrant where the CSU is not. Otherwise since UC are FAFSA only they are simple and fairly accurate.

Yes i was calculating based on what I would have to pay in-state

The other question I asked was also important. Are you calgrant eligible or not? Can you copy/paste the NPC results here.

For high need students, CSU can be cheaper than UC if you commute from your parents’ place. But it is likely more if you have to live there.

Estimated Total Cost of Attendance
Tuition and Fees $14,576.97
Room and Board+$12,638.00
Books and Supplies+$1,732.00
Other Expenses+$2,630.00
Total Cost of Attendance $31,576.97
Estimated Financial Aid
Grants$10,356.97 - $11,356.97
Self Help$9,200.00 - $10,200.00
Family Help$10,520.00 - $11,520.00
Estimated Net Price$20,220.00 - $21,220.00
Expected Family Contribution
Student Contribution $0.00
Parent Contribution+$11,020.00
Expected Family Contribution $11,020.00

This is UCI?

Looks like they expect you to contribute $9,200 to $10,200 from a federal direct loan ($5,500) plus work earnings during the summer and part time in the school year, and expect your parents to contribute $10,520 to $11,520, for a total net price of $19,720 to $21,720. However, the net price based on list price minus grants is $20,220 to $21,220, a narrower range in the same ballpark.

Note that the various UC campuses do vary somewhat, so try the net price calculators at each one.

The CSU net price calculator is at .

When comparing estimates, use the net price that is the list price minus grants and scholarships (not loans or work study).

Since you’re grant is slightly smaller than a Cal Grant, I’m assuming you qualify for the Middle Class Scholarship instead, which seems fitting with your not too high but not too low EFC. It’s available only at UC’s. CSU’s give zero aid to middle class families (thus the higher net price).

^^yes agree (except CSU does give aid to cal grant eligible)

If you qualified for Cal grant which some middle class families do, about 80k AGI for family of 3, then you would get tuition paid at a UC or tuition paid at a CSU. Then UC usually kicks in for some additional expenses. But if your income is a bit higher than Cal grant eligible, then you get nothing at a CSU, but you can get the MCS middle class scholarship which pays some costs at UC maybe 20 to 40 pct and/or Blue and Gold which pays tuition. It seems you are right in that area perhaps.

Be careful, your net cost is not 11k because loans are not free, plus they expect you to work to self help the amount not covered by loan, which is 3 to 4k extra. Your real cost is 20 - 21k. The loan just means you pay later instead of now. So if CSU is 21k and you have self help of 10k, that only costs you 11k too.

Self Help$9,200.00 - $10,200.00 ==>loan+work, if you don’t work you have to come up with the rest
Family Help$10,520.00 - $11,520.00
Estimated Net Price$20,220.00 - $21,220.00

"except CSU does give aid to cal grant eligible

If you qualified for Cal grant which some middle class families do, about 80k AGI for family of 3, then you would get tuition paid at a UC or tuition paid at a CSU. "

True, true…for some reason I wasn’t thinking of that range as middle class, though, and thus excluded it…but yeah, that is middle class.