The U.S. Department of Education Net Price Calculator Center defines the Net Price as “the amount that a student pays to attend an institution in a single academic year AFTER subtracting scholarships and grants the student receives. Scholarships and grants are forms of financial aid that a student does not have to pay back.” Many colleges go to great lengths to hide their net price, the most common of which is to refer to student loans as ‘Awards.’ However, student loans are not awards and to refer to them as awards can significantly distort the true ‘net price’ of attending an institution.

The Net Price Calculator is a tool that can assist you early in the college planning process with identifying the institutional financial aid policies of the colleges to which you are considering applying for admission. The Net Price Calculator for one institution may result in limited offers of institutional aid while another institution may offer generous institutional grants and scholarships. Completing the Net Price Calculator for each of your colleges will assist in narrowing your college list.


How to use the Net Price Calculator to estimate college costs based on your personal background, family circumstances, and financial situation.

Estimated time to complete: 1 hour. 

Guiding Questions

  • Do the colleges to which I wish to apply offer merit- or need-based financial aid that would meet the financial needs of my family?
  • Is the Net Price of the colleges to which I wish to apply affordable without student loans?