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College Board

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The College Board's Net Price Calculator

All students deserve a clear picture of college options and opportunities. We can help you meet your students' need for reliable, thorough information on college financing. When your students begin searching for colleges, direct them to the College Board's Net Price Calculator (NPC).The school counseling community can actively use this free and valuable tool with students and parents as they begin to evaluate and compare their college choices.

What is the College Board’s NPC?

The NPC is a Web-based tool developed to give prospective students a personalized estimate of what it will cost to attend specific colleges. The colleges update the calculator with their financial aid awarding practices and policies. The students enter financial data about their family and academic data about themselves into the calculator.

The NPC then computes an estimated financial aid package for a student based on how the student's characteristics match up with the financial aid awarding practices of the institution. The calculator's results estimate out-of-pocket expenses for the family instead of an expected family contribution. These results are intended to help families make sound, informed choices.

How can the NPC help my students?

  • Low- and middle-income students will explore a broader set of colleges if they can envision affordability.
  • Higher-income students will gain a realistic perspective on the cost of college and plan accordingly.
  • All students will make better, more informed choices on what college to attend because they will have accurate information on how much it will really cost.

Will my role change as a result of the NPC?

The role of the college counselor will become even more critical. As helpful as the NPC is, it is not a substitute for good guidance and mentoring by professional counselors. Accessible information and connections to important resources are necessary to help students plan for college financially and academically. This is particularly true for those students and families with limited experience with the college planning process.

How can I be most helpful to my students?

College and universities can choose to purchase their NPC from the College Board or from several other providers, or they can use a free NPC developed by the federal government.

See the What Counselors Need to Know About Net Price Calculators: Helping Student Make Good Decisions (.pdf/244KB) guide for more information.

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