Net Student Price

Cliché: Count the cost.    
POCS Reality: College costs continue to rise.


 How much will you pay out-of-pocket for college? No matter where you attend, you will likely pay more than current students based on your net price because college costs continue to skyrocket; but those higher costs are not mainly from tuition.

 According to the Center for College Affordability and Productivity’s Net Tuition and Net Price Trends in the United States 2000-2009 Report, net student tuition increased by $1,067 but net student price rose by $2,988 at 4-year schools. The Report’s conclusion is:

“While tuition tends to get most of the attention when it comes to public discussions of college costs, the $2,988 increase at the four-year level indicates that roughly two-thirds of the increase in total college costs originates from non-tuition sources. This suggests that perhaps more attention needs to be paid to cost control for these other expenses.”

 Two year schools’ net student tuition fell by $849 while net student price rose by $1,333.

 The Report defines the terms:

  • Published Tuition: the “sticker price” of college.
  • Net Student Tuition: how much students actually pay for tuition (that is, sticker price less grant and scholarship aid).
  • Net Student Price: how much students actually pay, including non-tuition expenses, after accounting for grant and scholarship aid.
  • College Net Tuition Revenue: how much tuition revenue colleges receive per student.

  Besides tuition, other college costs include college fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses. There are also hidden costs such as borrowing costs if taking out loans, car purchase costs if buying a car. 

 Check out the Report’s Appendix A Alternative Methods of Calculating Net Tuition for an interesting description of some other organizations’ methodology including the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing.

 POCSmom’s College Prep DIY Insight: When you get your financial aid award letter, look for need-based grants and merit scholarships that reduce your college bill. Included student loans must be repaid and have borrowing costs from fees and interest charges that will increase your out-of-pocket college costs. Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a job where the student earns a paycheck.

 The FAFSA4caster is a tool to help families estimate their college costs although flaws may make the result inaccurate.

 Another tool, Net Price Calculators, found on each college website, also can distort college costs if they include financial aid loans and FWS awards; and merit awards are difficult to estimate. They also do not include hidden college costs.

 Let’s get the conversation started about cost control for non-tuition college expenses. Meanwhile, the Net Tuition and Net Price Trends in the United States 2000-2009 Report stays focused on out-of-pocket costs as the net student price.