Deadline Approaching for U.S. Colleges To Post Online "Net Price Calculators"

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College Planning Network -- an independent college admissions & financial aid planning firm -- is issuing a reminder of the approaching deadline for U.S. colleges to post an approved "Net Price Calculator" on their school web sites. Required under a provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, "Net Price Calculators" are designed to show families a more clear picture on the true "net" cost of college -- relative to their individual situation. Yet, despite an October 31, 2011 deadline for U.S. colleges to offer them on their web sites, most Net Price Calculators fall well short of their intended goals.

College Planning Network is issuing a reminder of the approaching deadline for a U.S. Department of Education mandate (the Higher Education Opportunity Act) which goes into effect October 31, 2011. The Act requires every U.S. college and university to include a “Net Price Calculator” on its official school websites.

According to the DOE, one of the calculator's goals is to help parents and students estimate the amount of financial aid they could potentially receive from an institution, thereby giving families a better indication of the true “net price” of what it will cost to attend college.

These calculators, however, have three main flaws -- one of which can easily produce an inaccurate estimate of financial aid amounts for many families. (An opinion shared by the president of a firm that actually creates custom Net Price Calculators, according to a June 2010 CBS MoneyWatch.com report.)

The following report identifies the problems with Net Price Calculators on college web sites, and details what families can do to get a more realistic estimate on financial aid for their college-bound students.

Follow this link to access the full report.

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