Net price calculators are supposed to be the best new thing to help you figure out what a college costs. And they can be helpful. But can you trust them?
In short, no. At least not unless you know the four year graduate rate for the college in question. You see, no matter how accurate the net price calculator is at letting you know what the college might cost you, until you have some idea of how many years of college you will have to pay for, you won’t know the real cost of the college.
Say the calculator says you have to pay $10,000 a year for college. If most students graduate from the college you have an interest in within four years, you would pay $40,000. But what if most students need six years to graduate? You would end up paying $60,000 for the college.
The net price calculator, even if accurate for your yearly cost, doesn’t tell you whether the college costs $40,000 or $60,000. Does that make a difference to you? Of course.
Use the net price calculators. But also make sure you understand the time it takes to graduate from the college. Only then can you begin to have an idea of what you might have to pay.