The goal of the College Calculator is to empower students by giving them more visibility into their financial future. Therefore, any student can use it at any moment! The only difference is the level of impact the College Calculator can have on the student.
A student in their final semester of high school who has applied to college and has financial aid award letters on hand will have a more impactful calculator than students in their freshman through junior years, who are in more of an exploratory phase of the college search process. But let’s be clear, students in either situation can benefit greatly from their use of the calculator!
I’m a high school senior with award letters, how should I use the calculator?
High school seniors with accessible college award letters have the most to get out of this calculator. To have the most accurate experience, you should have all of your award letters accessible and a pen and paper for notes. Be sure to keep good track of the after-college scenarios for all your different college scenarios.
This information will come in very handy when Decision Day is approaching in May. Looking at the information that you get from the calculator, ask yourself; Which university is the most realistic? Which institution will be the best fit for my interest and identities? Which university offers the resources I need to succeed and graduate with a Bachelor’s degree? Which university is offering the most bang for my buck?
The answers to the questions above should help you narrow your list down to the choices that make the most sense. If you’re living off-campus or commuting, remember to go to the advanced settings and update the “Room & Board” costs. The calculator defaults to the price of on-campus room & board fees.
Be aware that sometimes students have to make sacrifices when it comes to choosing a university. In reality, your dream school may not end up being where you enroll. And that’s okay because the grass is greener where you water it.
I don’t have any award letters, how should I use the calculator?
Congratulations on starting this process early! It’s never too early to start collecting information about colleges. The best thing for a student in your position to do is clicking around. Try some different colleges, try some different cities for after-graduation living, try some different loan payback terms. Start to get an understanding of the financial undertaking of college and university.
The goal of the calculator is not to discourage students from pursuing a higher education degree, the goal is to help students make the most informed decision. College Board said that in 2019, the average amount of federal student aid totals to around $14,800 per undergraduate student so this could be a good place to start for a fuller picture of the higher education costs.
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