College Net Price Calculators are not accurate for business owners

by Grace

A word to the wise —

Net price calculators are not accurate for business owners and other situations.

Here’s the warning from Bowdoin College:

For some families (e.g. divorces/separated, business owners) using the Net Price Calculator will be less reliable because of the complexity of their family financial circumstances. The calculator is not intended for international families….

The general message is that if your family’s financial circumstances deviate from a “typical” situation, the simplified NPC calculations are less likely to predict your cost to attend college.  In the case of business owners, schools usually will ask for additional financial information, which often results in revenue that had been netted out being added back in for the purpose of determining expected family contribution to college costs.

Net Price Calculators have been required since 2011.

In accordance with the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, as of October 29, 2011 each postsecondary institution that participates in the Title IV federal student aid programs is required to post a net price calculator on its Web site that uses institutional data to provide estimated net price information to current and prospective students and their families based on a student’s individual circumstances. This calculator should allow students to calculate an estimated net price of attendance at an institution (defined as cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid) based on what similar students paid in a previous year. The net price calculator is required for all Title IV institutions that enroll full-time, first-time degree- or certificate-seeking undergraduate students.


2 Comments to “College Net Price Calculators are not accurate for business owners”

  1. Bowdoin’s NPC is a great example of a bad NPC: it’s practically a FAFSA yet not a whole, complete FAFSA. The school would be better served by, first, directing users to attain their EFC through or or the College Board’s EFC calculator, and then, secondly, adding a function to their NPC that allows user to enter in a known EFC.


  2. I have noticed that the EFC estimation/entry seems to be a weak link in many NPCs. I agree that better instructions or different methods would aid in improving accuracy.


%d bloggers like this: