Oct 112011
Authors: Jason Pohl

Cost expectation and financial planning have always been sore dinner conversation topics for families hoping to send their kids to a prestigious university, especially in today’s tough economic times.

But things are about to a get a little easier as a new federally-mandated financial planning tool called a “Net Price Calculator” will become available in the coming weeks, according to officials. The tuition calculator will factor in some FASFA data including parent’s income, but will also take a step forward by including living arrangements and likely scholarships, producing a more accurate cost of attendance.

“We hope if they use it, it will give them a lot of useful information,” said James Broscheit, the associate director for Student Financial Services at CSU. “It’ll be as good as the information they put into it.”

The result is not a guaranteed figure, but an estimate based on attendance costs and financial aid provided to students in previous years, according to Broscheit. This will give future students a more customized idea of what to expect.

The deadline for the nearly 7,000 federally-funded schools to implement a version of the new calculator is Oct. 29, as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.
The act also called for greater transparency among student loan providers and academic institutions –– something this calculator will also do.

It is something Eric Berlinberg, the Associated Students of CSU president, has emphasized repeatedly while in office. His team has worked with Financial Services to deliver accurate and necessary tuition information to students through another unaffiliated program.

“Tuition is a bit more tricky when you bring in all the various components into it (including) state funding, regular tuition, research funding, grants (and) federal aid,” Berlinberg said. “This will help with transparency.”

This federally mandated tuition calculator differs from a similar tool, available through the university, in that it intends to benefit new and transfer students with a more personalized result.

The other tool does not require such specific financial information as the “Net Price Calculator.”

“I hope it does what they want it to,” Broscheit said. He reiterated that results from other institutions for this specific calculator remain unavailable as the program has not fully taken effect.

Students seemed encouraged by the program and said that it will be a great benefit for incoming freshmen, especially those who are funding it on their own and first-generation attendees.

“I think living standards are different around the country and around the world, and I think it would help a lot,” said Alexandria Barnes, a senior international relations major.

She went on to say that people often lack a total understanding of all the factors that go into college, and she admitted to being overwhelmed at times, especially entering school for the first time.

“I’m glad there’s support for things like this,” she said.

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:24 pm

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