Takeaway Tweets & Transcript from #CampusChat with Leah Ingram
A very special thank you goes out to Leah Ingram, founder of Suddenly Frugal, for sharing her tips on how to save money for college by making adjustments to how families spend at home. Below are the Takeaway Tweets and the complete #CampusChat Transcript for 04/11/12 is available here as a PDF.
Smart College Price Calculators
No longer must families wait until their student is accepted to learn about their “real” price of attending that college or university – the price after all sources of aid are considered. With the new transparency in education, families will have access to net price information long before they send out applications. Perhaps even before they decide upon a campus visit.
Starting in October, the federal government will require undergraduate institutions to offer a net price calculator on their websites to give students an estimated cost of attending their college -- a sort of Expedia or Carfax of higher education.
Given that the price of attending college often equals the cost of buying a new car every year, this makes sense. People are concerned about borrowing heavily for higher education and more likely now to consider net price as a major factor when deciding among various colleges.
The manner of arriving at the net price of a college for a student, after taking into account all scholarships, grants, work study, and loans can be the most frustrating aspects of the admissions process. Some colleges have been posting net price calculators or "estimators" for several years, and the federal government also has provided a template.
How good are these various price calculators? How do they compare? It’s important that the information used in these calculations be up-to-date and factor in a student’s unique financial and academic circumstances. The federal net price calculator template is a model and understandably must take a "one size fits all" approach to aid-awarding criteria across all institutions. However, standards and packages vary with each college.
The biggest plus and major drawback of the federal template is that it asks only eight questions to determine a student's dependency status, expected family contribution and price of attendance. Key questions about family assets and income exclusions are not asked, nor does it consider merit-aid criteria.
Price calculators built on the federal template show net price, but don’t calculate up-front, out-of-pocket costs, which means students won’t see how loans and work-study could reduce their net price.
Some college and universities are using price calculators customized especially for them. They may take longer to complete, but they incorporate the institution’s grants and methods of determining aid and a thorough examination of the student’s financial and academic situation. That’s 15 minutes well spent.
- When Your Child Turns 18 and Goes to College: What Parents Need to Know (SCV)
- Panels of Experts Address Net Price Calculators and Financial Aid Award Letters (NACAC)
- The Net Price Calculator: Financial Aid ‘Game-Changer’? (NYT)
CampusChat Tonight: Going to College Debt Free
Go to college debt-free? Can you do it? Zac Bissonnette is and he wrote a book about it.
Tonight on #CampusChat, we'll cover some of the points author and college student Zac Bissonnette makes in his book: Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off my Parents [affiliate link via Smart College Visit Amazon store].
With the May 1 Candidate's Reply Date just weeks away, families everywhere are taking a hard look at offers of admission, financial aid, and the rising cost of college tuition to assess the best choice for their teen's future.
Zac's book offers up a straight look at nontraditional choices, financial facts, and how to make the most a college education while you're in college. Zac won't be with us, but we'll tackle some of the key points from his book. Join us at 9PM, Eastern on Twitter. Use the hashtag "#campuschat" in your tweets to participate.
About Zac Bissonnette
Zac is a senior at the University of Massachusetts and will graduate this spring with a degree in Art History. He is also a writer and editor for AOL Money & Finance (DailyFinance.com).