What Is The Average Net Price Of College?

There’s no denying that college is expensive. But the big question that still remains is ‘how much does college actually cost?’ The cost of attendance varies considerably from one school to another. So, how do you determine the average net price of college?

When researching the cost of college, you’ll come across two main terms – sticker price and net price. Before discussing what is the net price for college, it’s important to understand the distinction between these two terms. That will make it easier for you to calculate how much you’re likely to pay to attend a specific school.

College student with money

What Is Sticker Price For College?

Every college publishes their estimated cost of tuition on their website. The price published on a school’s website is called the ‘sticker price’. The sticker price takes into consideration the cost of every component that goes into getting a college education at that school. This includes the annual tuition fees, cost of room, board, books, and miscellaneous costs such as library card fees or parking permits.

A college’s sticker price reflects the actual annual cost of attending that particular institution. However, that’s rarely the amount that families will pay. What families end up paying is the net price.

What Is Net Price?

The ‘net price’ of a college is what a student will actually pay to attend that particular institution for one year. Net price is calculated as annual sticker price minus all financial aid offered to the student, including grants, scholarships, and education tax benefits.

It is a more accurate representation of what you’ll actually pay.

Graphic shows that a college's net price is calculated by subtracting gift aid - scholarships and grants - from the total stick price. College costs add up.

The net price you pay to attend any college is specific to you only – generally no two students will pay the same. The price is customized for each student based on the student’s financial aid package, which is based on their personal financial circumstances and other factors.

A higher sticker price doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll pay a correspondingly higher net price. Depending on the school’s financial aid policies, deserving students with financial need may get a generous financial aid package. This can drop their net price considerably.

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What Is the Average Net Price of College?

Average Net Price’ is another term you’re likely to come across while researching financial aid. This refers to the average cost that students pay to attend a school. This is obtained by deducting the average federal, state, and institutional gift aid from the sticker price of a college.

In fact, the average net price of college in America may surprise you. Here’s a look at the average net price for the 2021-2022 school year for full-time beginning undergraduate students who paid the in-state or in-district tuition rate and were awarded grant or scholarship aid from federal, state or local governments, or the institution.

Average Net Price of Public 4-year Institutions

Family Income Level Average Net Price
All $14,124.81
$0 – $30,000 $9,133.55
$30,001 – $48,000 $10,356.62
$48,001 – $75,000 $13,765.44
$75,001 – $110,000 $18,859.07
$110,001 and more $22,218.65

Average Net Price of Private 4-year Institutions

Family Income Average Net Price
All $27,549.02
$0 – $30,000 $20,114.28
$30,001 – $48,000 $19,694.31
$48,001 – $75,000 $22,430.02
$75,001 – $110,000 $26,883.46
$110,001 and more $35,674.50

How To Calculate Your Net Price For Any College

The federal government requires every college to provide a net price calculator on their website. This is a tool that’s designed to generate a personalized estimate of what you can expect to pay (your net price) for the first year at that college.

Using a net price calculator is easy and user-friendly. Start by entering in the information the tool asks for. This is typically related to the gift aid you may be entitled to receive by way of federal grants, state grants, and institutional aid. After you’ve entered this information, the tool will add up the total free money you will be receiving. To obtain the net price, the tool will then subtract the total free money from the school’s cost of attendance.

Some schools have more advanced net price calculators that also ask for the parents’ and the students’ relevant tax returns and latest investment account statements. These calculators generate estimates that are closer to the actual net price you’ll pay.

When using a net price calculator, it’s important to provide accurate figures related to income, assets, gift aid and other questions. The net price generated can

College Raptor Makes It Easy For You To Find YOUR Net Price

College Raptor makes it quick and easy for you to generate your net price at various school. Within a few minutes, you can get your net price estimates for every 4-year college across the United States. In addition to estimating your net prices, the tool also generates details on potential financial aid awards, and debt at graduation. Best of all, College Raptor’s net price calculator is free to use.

Recap: 5 Important Things You Need To Know About Net Price Of College

  1. The net price is what you’ll really pay to attend an institution – not the sticker price. The sticker price is the full cost of tuition at any institution as published on its website. Net price is calculated by subtracting your gift aid and education tax benefits from the sticker price. Net price is significantly lower than the sticker price at any school.
  2. Every student pays a different price to attend a school based on their personal financial circumstances as well as the financial aid they are eligible to receive from that school. Aid awards for each student are based on various factors such as academic performance, financial need, and athletic or other accomplishments.
  3. Your net price will vary from one school to another, even if their sticker prices are the same. Each school has its own formula for calculating how much financial aid to offer their students. This will have an impact on how much aid you receive from your school, which in turn will impact your net price to attend that school.
  4. Determining your net price for different colleges can broaden your choices. Without calculating your net price, you’re more likely to dismiss a college that seems like a good fit only because of its high sticker price. Using a net price calculator may help you realize that that college is actually affordable.
  5. You can save time and generate your net price for multiple colleges within minutes using the free College Match Tool on the College Raptor website.

Your Dream College is in Reach

Don’t let the high sticker price deter you from choosing the college of your dreams. The actual net price may be more affordable than you think depending on your financial aid eligibility. Use College Raptor’s free College Match Tool to calculate YOUR net price for attending any college in the United States.

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