NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Adding up the cost of a college education may now be as simple as logging onto your computer. The net price calculator is designed to help students and parents figure out how much it will cost them to go to school. In just weeks every college and university in the nation must post the calculator on the school website.
90% of first year students at McDaniel College receive merit or need based financial aid. But few of them knew then exactly what it would cost to go to school. Now the net price calculator will help new and current students add up the final numbers.
Patty Williams is director of the school's Financial Aid Office. She says this new tool will take some of the guess work out of filling out college costs.
Financial Aid Director Patty Williams says "what ours does is it takes all of the financial information that we're going to ask a parent or s student when they apply for financial aid. Ask for it up front, run it through a calculator give them as estimate of what they're going to pay to come to McDaniel."
Already some McDaniel College students are giving the calculators high marks.
Student Amy Baumgardner says "I think it's a very helpful tool considering I depend on financial aid greatly with college and stuff, so I mean it's a great tool for any college student no matter grad or undergrad."
The online calculators require students and parents to pass along tax information, earnings, and bank statements. It also takes into account student grade point averages, class ranking, and SAT scores.
Patty Williams says "so now they can sit down and go well, let's see and it's an estimate. The information's only as good as they put in as what comes out. So they have to be pretty careful about what they put in but it will give them an idea."
School officials say this computer program can serve as a good first step in helping families to at least estimate how much they'll have to pay for school.