There are a lot of prices out there thrown around when it comes to your college education. From sticker price to tuition to room and board, it can be a bit confusing what these terms mean in relation to how much you’ll pay for year at a particular school. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to the “net price.”

What is the Net Price?

Using a net price calculator, you can calculate what is known as a net price. Instead of the sticker price, which is the full “official” cost of the school, the net price is a close estimate to what you will actually pay to attend the school. The estimate is for one year as a full time undergraduate.

The net price calculator can help you determine just how much grants or institutional aid you will receive at a particular college. This can include any need-based aid as well as scholarships, merit-based aid, and potential aid from your state. A sticker price for some colleges can be shocking, so a net price can actually help you get a true estimate of the cost. A college you thought expensive, could be much more affordable than you first thought!

Remember: It’s an Estimate

The net price is there to give you a general idea of how much money a school will cost you for one year, but the number the calculator gives you is not set in stone. These tools take current data into account, not projections for tuition or room and board cost increases that may happen in the future. A tuition hike could happen before you attend the college, so it’s important to remember that the number you’re receiving is an estimate.

However, even though it’s not a 100% guaranteed price, it can give you a closer look into the realities of a college’s cost. Also remember that not all colleges will include potential scholarships and other aid you may receive through the school itself. Some schools only take federal financial aid into account when providing a net price.

Using a Calculator

Using a net price calculator is easy. Each college is legally required to supply you with a net price calculator on their website, but if you’re looking at 15+ schools at a time, this could get a bit overwhelming. You will have to enter in your financial and personal information to each college individually.

On College Raptor, each college’s page offers a net price for you using the information you provide. You’ll only be asked to provide this info once and you can check out as many colleges as you’d like. This gives you a great resource to keep track of what colleges are actually a good fit for you financially and prevents you from having to check the net price with every single school’s website.

You can get started on your college search and net price estimates right on College Raptor. Using resources like net price calculators can help you determine just which schools are the right fit for you.