College Pricing Unlocked
The key to affordability lies in decoding college pricing. Every school has its own approach: some prioritize need-based aid for low-income applicants, others focus on scholarships for outstanding students, and many seek to attract higher-earning families with merit grants. Our goal is to guide students toward colleges where their educational dreams and financial situations align.
- Colleges have highly varied approaches to aid, which can greatly impact their Net Price
- Net Price is sticker price minus gift aid, or what you pay the first year (out of pocket and through loans)
- By gently broadening students’ horizons, we can help them fall in love with colleges that pave the way for a promising future
College costs are notoriously opaque, often leaving students and families in the dark. But with the right tools, we can shine a light on college affordability. Armed with the real numbers, your college search can confidently hone in on schools that make both academic and economic sense.
- To find colleges in your price range, TuitionFit.org is an absolute game-changer. Basic accounts are free, but the $49 upgrade is worth its weight in gold, and we enthusiastically endorse it – no kickbacks involved 🙂
- For household incomes under $110K, the free website TuitionTracker.org forecasts Net Price based on income bracket. A few schools that prioritize need-based aid are Dickinson College, Berea College, and Washington and Lee University.
- For incomes over $110K, this spreadsheet by Big J Educational Consulting provides data on non-need-based aid. A few schools that offer significant non-need-based aid are the College of Wooster, DePauw University, and Beloit College.
Show Me the Money
When your financial aid award letters start to arrive, you may find all the unfamiliar terms and overly complicated numbers confusing. But we’ve got your back with resources that will help you compare offers accurately and make a decision you can feel good about!
- MoneyThink by DecidED is a free tool that decodes award letters – just upload a pic, and they’ll do the math.
- College Navigator – Check if awards will be reduced in future years by comparing grant aid under “Full-Time Beginning” versus “All” undergraduates (Example: NYU cuts grants by $12K after the first year!)
- Swift Student provides free templates for financial aid appeal letters, which could be the easiest money you ever make.
Thank you for joining our mission to make college affordable! We welcome your questions, suggestions, or future topic requests. Please text our founder, Anna Sharp, directly at 878-444-0455. Together, we believe we can make higher education more accessible for all families.
- TuitionFit.org – Discovering all the colleges that fit your budget.
- TuitionTracker.org – Predict cost based on household income bracket.
Since graduating on time reduces costs, graduation rates are also provided.
- Merit Aid – Predict cost based on colleges' distribution of non-need-based aid.
For the most accurate data, Google the college's name and "Common Data Set." Scroll to section H2, rows N and O.
- Net Price Calculators – Get a more personalized estimate based on your individual financial circumstances.
Caution: Some schools' calculators can be misleading or outdated.
- MoneyThink by DecidED – Decode award letters by uploading a pic.
- Offer Letter Decoder – Decode award letters by uploading a pdf.
- College Navigator – Check if awards will be reduced in future years by comparing grant aid under "Full-Time Beginning" versus "All" undergraduates (here's an example)
- Swift Student provides free templates for financial aid appeal letters