Tough Work of Figuring Out the Real Cost of College

Soon, families might have a slightly better idea what they might actually pay to attend college.

According to an article by Caralee Adams in Education Week:

Yesterday, financial aid administrators, gathered at their annual conference in Denver, talked about a new federal law requiring institutions to provide a net price calculator on their websites. The Higher Education Opportunity Act was signed into law in 2008 and includes many new reporting and disclosure requirements. Schools that participate in Title IV student aid have until October 2011 to comply.

Schools can either use the Department of Education’s price calculator template or develop their own. The trouble is that the department’s template is sort of crappy. The template is far too generic to provide families with a true picture of what they’re likely to pay. One company, StudentAid.com, is now selling its own cost calculator service to various American colleges and universities in preparation for the 2011 deadline.

The Department of Education should take note. If the template provided is so bad that colleges are forced to pay a private vendor to comply with the 2008 law, fix the template.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer