Can Net Price Calculators tell the true cost of an education?

Across the country, high school seniors are narrowing their college choices and working on applications.

When it comes time to make a final decision on where to enroll, many of these students and their families will turn to the Net Price Calculator (NPC) found on the website of every college that accepts any kind of federal aid.

These calculators are intended to help students understand the real cost of attending college to better make an informed choice. Colleges are required to go beyond tuition, and include other expenses like the cost of books and the cost of living. After entering information about themselves, the calculators are supposed to provide students with a personalized estimate for how much they would have to pay.

But can you trust Net Price Calculators?

Laura Perna, a Penn GSE expert on college access, recently examined the accuracy of these tools. As Perna’s video explains, many NPCs are confusing, or worse, misleading.

Read more at Penn GSE.