Colleges are required to include net price calculators on their websites. These calculators provide students and families with customized estimates of financial aid and the actual cost of attendance.

The calculators are different from college to college, but most require you to enter financial and other information, which is then processed through this net price formula:

Net Price = Sticker Price – Gift Aid (grants, scholarships, and awards)

Net price calculators can help you identify the colleges you can afford. Some of the colleges with an affordable net price may even be those with a high "sticker price."

Consider these important factors when using college net price calculators:

  • Not all net price calculators are the same. Some ask more questions than others. In general, the more questions asked, the more accurate the estimate.
  • Estimates are only as accurate as the information you provide.
  • Net price calculators may not anticipate all of your financial needs. They may not include estimates of eligibility for student loans or federal work-study.
  • Net price calculators are not financial aid applications. You must complete a FAFSA for every year you attend college to qualify for financial aid.
  • The net price calculator results are estimates only. The results are your starting point for important conversations about college choices and affordability.