How Valid are the Net Price Calculators?

<p>DS is a Junior with high stats, and we need to focus on good financial aid as one of the main requirements. He has a large list of probable schools as of now, and I have been putting our financial information in lots of different net price calculators for private schools. The results are eye-opening, and all over the place, like a $20,000 difference. How close generally is this information to what the financial aid package may look like? I am thinking we need to take all of the colleges off the list that are absolutely unaffordable according to these calculators, but wanted to hear others' advice.</p>

<p>Edit: Just saw the post a few down; looks like nobody really knows, and we will have to wait until next year to see how the packages were compared to the net price calculators?</p>

<p>I ran my college freshman son's stats through the calculators at the public and private schools he was accepted to last year. In all cases, the calculators underestimated his actual awards in scholarship and grant money. So they seem to be fairly conservative in the calculator estimates, and I hope this holds true for this years' seniors!</p>

<p>And yes, we did have a $20,000 difference in funding between schools and that showed up on the calculators too.</p>

<p>Thanks for the info, Momofbassist; interesting that they were somewhat conservative. Even if some of the calculator estimates for schools on DS's list are conservative, they are still financially unaffordable to us, and will most likely have to go.</p>

<p>The results are eye-opening, and all over the place, like a $20,000 difference.</p>

<p>That's going to happen for a few reasons:</p>

<p>1) Some of these NPCs seem to be overly optimistic (I'm talking about the schools that don't meet need - I think some are worried that their app numbers will drop if their NPCs are too "on target").</p>

<p>2) Most schools do not meet need, so those schools are going to expect families to pay more than whatever your FAFSA EFC is or whatever a CSS calculator estimates.</p>

<p>3) Some NPCs are asking for stats, so perhaps you're getting some merit scholarships incuded.</p>

<p>4) Some NPCs aren't asking for stats, but are including merit scholarships anyway. :rolleyes:</p>

<p>5) Some NPCs are including work-study, which can be iffy. I've noticed that some are being vague and not calling it "work-study". Instead, they're just calling it something like "student school year earnings" ....which I guess could just be earnings from a regular job...so certainly not "aid"!</p>

<p>6) Some schools use institutional methodologies and will count things like home equity in their NPC calculations.</p>

<p>7) I think that the schools that meet need (or close to it) are going to be the most accurate.</p>

<p>8) I also think the ones that are very upfront about their aid (or really, lack of aid) are going to be most accurate. Being OOS for Mich State U and using the NPC indicates little aid. </p>

<p>I don't think there's going to be any official "checks and balances" as far as checking to see how accurate the NPC numbers are from actual FA packages. I hope people are printing out their estimates. Of course, schools will always have the fall back position that the NPC calculators don't consider everything and that people often don't put in perfectly accurate info. </p>

<p>DS is a Junior with high stats, and we need to focus on good financial aid as one of the main requirements.</p>

<p>What do you think your FAFSA EFC is?<br>
Do you know how much you can afford to spend each year? Once you know that amount, be sure to communicate that with your child so that he's aware of the situation. </p>

<p>Financial aid is "need based".</p>

<p>You may need to also consider looking at schools that give very large merit scholarships. These can be your financial safety schools. Since scholarships are first applied to "need", to reduce your EFC, the scholarship may have to be quite large.</p>

<p>Thanks, mom2collegekids. For the most part, there seems to be two net-price calculators that are being used; one that seems to be popular with schools that do not meet full need, which went into quite a lot of detail, and those were the ones that were all over the place. For example, Chapman University and Santa Clara University came up with a pretty doable number; Loyola Marymount and U. of Puget Sound were about $17,000 higher. None of them split up the merit aid vs. institutional grant. The net price calculator used by logging onto Collegeboard seemed to be used by the Need blind, most selective schools, and that number was pretty similar, give or take 1 or 2 thousand dollars. A few of the non-needblind schools came surprisingly close to this number.</p>

<p>My son does know our EFC, which is very low, and he has known this since middle school, so he is doing a good job of setting himself up for either getting some good merit aid or getting into the more selective need blind schools. He has an idea of what he wants in a school, but I have never pushed the romantic idea of 'fit' or 'dream school', or 'prestigious school'. I feel he can be successful in many different schools, and the financial aid/merit package will probably be the number one deciding factor. </p>

<p>We just need to find a good breadth of schools that will be fairly affordable without having to waste application fees or the time taken to fill them out. I am hoping that the net price calculators will help in these decisions.</p>