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)
Hokie Central: the Virginia Tech Visitor and Undergraduate Admissions Center
To truly “get” Hokie Spirit on your campus visit, you’ll need to walk among the Hokie Nation on Virginia Tech’s “Hokie stone” campus. But a first stop at Virginia Tech’s new visitor center provides a rousing pep rally, introduction, and helpful background information.
Here you can take a virtual tour of a dorm room, touch an interactive map screen for directions to key buildings, and have your photo taken with the Hokie Bird against a variety of exciting backgrounds.
Prepare to spend some time browsing the center’s interactive exhibits that highlight Virginia Tech’s history, colleges, student life, ongoing research and outreach. Pause for a virtual visit with University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni or a student in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. Learn the history of the word “Hokie.”
The exhibit also gives information about daily campus activities, as well as nearby attractions for visitors, such as Smithfield Plantation, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Jefferson National Forest hiking trails.
At the visitor center, you can relax with coffee on the patio, while gazing at the view of campus and nearby mountains. Campus information sessions are held daily in the adjacent conference room, but your chances of obtaining a seat are greatly improved if you register ahead.
With more than 50,000 visitors each year, Virginia Tech also requires registration for its student-led campus tours. Buses taking visitors to main campus for the walking tour have a limited number of seats, so sign up early. You can register through the Virginia Tech Admissions website, or call the admissions office at (540) 231-6267 during business hours if you have a disability and desire special assistance.
You can also schedule college and department tours to further enrich your campus visit. Contact information is available at the admissions website, listed above.
A short walk from the Inn at Virginia Tech, the attractive stone visitor center building stands in the Virginia Tech golf course at the corner of Prices Fork Road and University City Boulevard.
The visitor center is open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admissions staff members are available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Explore Virginia Tech's academic profile page or plan visit page on SmartCollegeVisit.com for more information and to get directions or book a hotel for your visit. The Inn at Virginia Tech is the University's on-campus hotel.
Smart See, Smart Do: Bridgewater College Equestrian Center
Most students ask "Can I bring my car to campus?”
Campus tour guides are happy to say that at Bridgewater, the answer is often yes. Spaces are reserved for student horses in Bridgewater’s equestrian center, where steeds experience all the comforts of home as well as extras like automated waterers.
Prospective students should plan a college visit that includes Bridgewater College’s year-round equestrian center. The facility includes two barns, 30 horses, two outdoor arenas, and one of the largest indoor arenas in western Virginia – a world-class facility to supportits flourishing equestrian program.
“I feel we have a top-of-the-line facility, one comparable with any equestrian center,”says Beth Boteler, Bridgewater College assistant director of riding.
The 10-year-old equestrian program has taken either first or second place in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championships five years running and placed in the top five nationally in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association this year.
The team practices and hosts intercollegiate horse shows at the riding and training facility located 15 minutes from campus. The 75-acre center includes fully-equipped classrooms, heated tack rooms, jumps, other support structures, and a full string of horses capable of teaching all levels of riders.
Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college in the Central ShenandoahValley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state's first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to nearly 1,700 undergraduate students.
Planning a college visit is easy. Just call Admissions at 1-800-759-8328 or 540-515-3753. If you would like to arrange a visit with a professor or coach, attend a class,or visit the equestrian center, please schedule at least a week in advance. Saturday appointments fill quickly, so call as early as possible.
Explore Bridgewater College on SmartCollegeVisit:
- Academic Profile - demographics, requirements, campus tour video, travel planning