Creating More Accurate College Net Price Estimates

If you’re a prospective college student, you may be pulling your hair out when going through the shopping process.

Not just because of all of the hoops you’re made to jump through and paperwork you need to fill out — but also because of how misleading college cost estimates can be.

Many estimates can be downright misleading, which means that when students submit their actual application and receive a financial aid award letter, they’re often disappointed to find out that the college they wanted to attend costs much more than the estimate they received.

So, how does College Raptor help make the most accurate possible estimates? We have three main features that help improve accuracy and transparency:

1. Accuracy indicator

All of our net price estimates are accompanied by an accuracy indicator. This tells you how confident we are in our estimate. As we receive more data for each institution and from a wide range of students, we are able to better predict the net costs at that school and the indicator will turn green.

Screen shot showing MCP's accuracy indicator which shows how accurate our models are, based on the amount of data we have for each college or university.

2. User feedback

We want to know how well we estimated your net price. So, we built a tool that allows users to submit their actual financial aid information confidentially for use in our future estimates. This information along with user financial and academic data (which does not include any personally identifying information, as always) will be used to improve the accuracy of our estimates and help us continuously improve. Also, the more data we obtain the better we will be able to estimate merit scholarships given by many colleges, and include that in our overall net price estimates.

Please provide your feedback to help us and help other students!

Screen shot of MCP's tool for gathering feedback from users on actual college costs to compare and improve net price estimates.

3. Advanced calculator

What is the best way to improve the accuracy of your net price estimate? Provide us with more specific information about your financial information.

Many schools have very nuanced financial aid policies that take income and assets into account differently. The more we know about your family’s financial situation, the better we can estimate your net price for college.

Our advanced calculator is an easy-to-use tool that uses more data than our standard calculator to provide a better overall financial assessment and the most accurate net price estimate possible.

Screen shot of MCP's advanced calculator which allows prospective students to see the most accurate college cost estimates.

The goal of College Raptor remains to make the college comparison process as simple and transparent as possible. We will continue to make improvements that help families have accurate cost estimates to make the best decisions about college enrollment.

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