FAQ

Learn about our college comparison tool - Frequently Asked Questions
College Raptor allows prospective college students and their families to quickly compare schools and determine which institutions are the best match based on both academics and net price.

College Raptor Information
College Raptor is a free tool that allows prospective college students and their families to discover college options based on individual fit and net price of attendance. Our tool collects basic information about academic performance, desired criteria, and financial capacity to determine which colleges fit your abilities, meet your criteria, and fall within your budget.
College Raptor begins with data provided by colleges annually to the U.S. Department of Education combined and with financial aid reports our users provide about their experience at various colleges. Then College Raptor evaluates hundreds of thousands of proprietary models about the financial aid practices of U.S. colleges. Based on a user's specific academic and financial profile, College Raptor estimates the net price for the student to attend specific colleges.
College Raptor's goal is to find the colleges that meet each student's unique circumstances. College matches are determined by a student's academic profile (test scores and GPA), academic interest (intended major), campus culture (distance from home, total enrollment, etc.), and financial situation.

Students can also shape their matches by expressing how important net price is in determining their enrollment decision. Students can choose to ignore costs to find colleges that most meet their academic and cultural requirements. Students can choose to make net price the most important factor to find the schools that will be the lowest price. Most commonly, students can opt to find a blend between their academic profile, cultural preferences, and net price to get a more well-rounded list of matches.
College Raptor provides data to users free of charge. We are able to do this by offering advertising and affiliate offers through partner companies and colleges. As described in our Privacy Policy, these partners do not have access to the data that you provide directly to College Raptor.
We value your privacy. Your data will be kept safe and secure, and we will only provide personally-identifiable information to colleges or other parties if you request it. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.
Our matching and ranking systems are based only on data that we have available about colleges. We take this integrity very seriously and do not allow colleges or universities to ever pay to receive better placement or treatment in our system. The matches that you get are based on the information you provide and the information that we have about each college.
Yes. You have the option of creating a user account. This will enable you to access upgraded features and save your settings on our servers via a secure connection to our servers. For more information on the benefits of creating an account, see our Why Register? page.

 

College Raptor Data Information
In addition to the data we obtain from our users' financial aid reports, much of our data comes directly from the U.S. Department of Education's "Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System" known as IPEDS. This is the same data used by many college-related websites and national college ranking lists. IPEDS collects many types of data such as overall institutional characteristics, information about a school's financial aid grants, endowment, enrollment, degrees granted, faculty salaries, and demographic data. The U.S. Department of Education also provides a College Scorecard that assists in evaluating the loan default rate and average debt upon graduation for most colleges. For computing financial aid estimates, we also consider data from other sources such as U.S. census, tax/income, and housing valuation data by geographic location.

Data from IPEDS is often a couple of years old and the age of a given data point varies by the type of data, when it was collected and when it is released by IPEDS. Sometimes we do not provide the raw IPEDS data but estimate fields such as costs based upon our analysis of historical trends and projected inflation.

For U.S. Department of Education data, our current, primary Data Sources - IPEDS: hd(2015), gr200(2015), ef_d(2015), ef_c(2015), c_a(2015), ic(2015), ic_ay(2016), sfa(2014-2015), f_f2(2014-2015), College Scorecard: scorecard(2014).
Our net prices are provided as estimates and may not reflect the actual net price. Generally, our models are able to provide costs that are accurate to within 10-20% of the costs provided by actual financial aid reports or as estimated by colleges' net price calculators. Our Results display icons next to each estimate to indicate how accurate we expect each estimate is.

We strive to provide a quick and convenient user experience that doesn't require much effort. In accomplishing this, College Raptor makes a number of assumptions based on statistical data when calculating estimated net prices. For example, many private colleges ask for information about home equity, tax losses, number of employees, whether the family owns and lives on a farm, etc. We do not ask these questions, but instead make assumptions about typical answers in our basic model. (We do support much more complete estimates but are not offering our advanced estimator to the general public at this time.)

We encourage users to take advantage of the colleges' net price calculators to receive a more accurate estimate of net cost, and then share that data with College Raptor when possible. Of course, if you have received an actual financial aid award letter from a college, please share that with us too. By providing us with your official net price estimates or data from award letters, you can help to improve the accuracy of our estimates.
Help us get better! Provide us with data from the college's net price calculator or financial aid award letter and we can use that information to provide better estimates in the future.
No, College Raptor currently only estimates costs based primarily on institutional gift aid (merit aid for academic scholarships directly from the colleges or grants provided by colleges for students with financial need). Our models do not take into account scholarships or grants from third-party organizations. College Raptor does not include institutional competitive scholarships for talents (athletics, music, art, etc.) or specific academic awards in its estimates. As colleges and our users provide us with more data, we will provide more accurate estimates.
Currently, College Raptor is only able to accurately estimate costs for traditional college-aged students (17-24) who are still considered dependents and who do not have dependents of their own. However, College Raptor can still provide valuable insight for other types of students by finding colleges that fit their academic profile and specific educational goals, as well as price estimates, although they are likely to be less accurate.