If you’re interested in a college that's out of your price range, the standard advice is to apply anyway. After all, the school could offer you a generous financial aid package that substantially reduces its cost of attendance.
While I tend to agree with this advice, it has two serious shortcomings.
The first is that it requires a student to put time and energy into application forms without having any idea whether a school will be a viable option, financially.
The second comes into play when a student is granted admission but receives an underwhelming financial aid package. Simply put, it is very hard for students and families to say “no” to an offer of admission from a dream school, even if they cannot afford it.
Wouldn’t it be great if students could get a sense of what a school might really cost—after financial aid—before they apply?
Fortunately, this wish is close to becoming a reality.
According to the New York Times blog The Choice, all U.S. colleges and universities will soon provide students with a “net price calculator” that will estimate one year’s cost of attendance after need-based financial aid. Estimates will be based on student-provided information about their family and its finances.
All schools must make their net price calculator available by October 29, and many schools already have theirs posted. Check the financial aid offices of the school on your list.
Note, however, that these calculators only provide estimates, not financial aid offers. Additionally, they do not include any merit-based financial aid a student might receive.
Click here to read more on The Choice.