Starting October 29, all colleges will be required to offer a Net Price Calculator (NPF).
Under the requirements of the federal NPC mandate, colleges must post a calculator on their Web sites that computes ‘net price’ (defined as tuition, fees and indirect expenses minus grant and scholarship aid) for individual students based on their personal or family financial status.
The resulting “net price” is the amount a student would pay, from savings, family income, loans, student jobs or other sources, to attend that school. The NPC can be a quick way to see how much financial aid a particular college would offer a particular student.
What about merit aid? It may not be included.
Institutions that grant merit aid, as opposed to need-based scholarships, require more information from students – thus complicating the calculator – and will be unlikely to provide precise aid estimates. A merit aid determination might be based, at least in part, on the strength of an applicant’s G.P.A. or SAT score relative to the scores of fellow applicants − an unknown until deadlines pass and applications are in.
Some colleges will not be providing estimates of merit aid at all in their NPC numbers. Others will give merit aid estimates with the warning that all scholarship sources are not included in the final calculation.
… the design of this calculator and the issues that colleges will face in deciding what to reveal in their calculator are many and multifaceted. The awarding of financial aid has gotten very complex, and the tactics that institutions use to maximize net revenue may have overtaken the basic value structures of the institution — such as providing aid differentially by gender or providing meager aid to very poor students and aiding middle-income students more generously. …
Gender may be one variable that a college uses in calculating its financial aid awards — aiding men and women differently.
Tomorrow I plan to post some NPC examples for various schools and student profiles.