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  • Writer's pictureAlison Merzel

The sticker price isn't what you will pay

When you shop for a car, you typically don't walk blindly into a car dealership, tell the salesperson which car you want, and walk out with the new keys to your car at the price printed on the window sticker. You have likely done extensive research online, maybe even printed out the Kelly Blue Book value of the car or determined the Edmunds' True Market Value.

Shopping for colleges is not dissimilar. The tuition and fees listed on each school's website and in college guides are just that - the sticker price. The cost one can expect to pay will vary greatly depending on eligibility for grants, loans, scholarships, fellowships, etc. Every college and university is required by the Department of Education to have a Net Price Calculator (NPC) on their website.

Sometimes these calculators are easier to find than others, but if you can't easily find it on the financial aid of the website, just enter the name of the school you are evaluating and "net price calculator" into the search bar and it should come up.

Some schools have added the MyinTuitionApp, which is a similar quick cost calculator to estimate your college cost based on a limited number of questions about your personal financial situation. Questions may include total family income; whether you own your home; your home's current value; the balance on your mortgage; retirement and investment accounts; cash on hand, non-retirement investments.

While these are just cost estimators, they at least give you a bit of a better idea about what you can expect to pay than the sticker price presented on the tuition and fees charts.

Have those 1040 forms at the ready and calculate away!

Have your tax forms available to easily complete the cost estimators

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