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Is CollegeBoard's Net Price Calculator Accurate?
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Hi! I'm a rising senior (class of 2021 yay!) and today, I decided to use CB's tuition calculator to see how much it would cost to go to the top colleges on my list. My family isn't wealthy but we're not low-income, so I wasn't expecting much financial aid. To my surprise, I found that a lot of them cost under 20k and even 10k, which is a lot less than what I was expecting. I made sure that I didn't input any information wrong with my parents. Can someone verify whether the calculator is accurate or not? It all seems to good to be true.

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To my knowledge, all of the College Board's Net Price Calculators are fairly accurate, I'd say within 5% or so. What I learned is that many colleges with a higher academic standard can be less money than applying to a State College. As a rule of thumb, the schools that provide 100% of financial need met are more generous regardless of family income. So if your family makes 200K or more, sometimes 50% of these families still qualify for financial aid. Also, Private institutions that have $1B to $30B in endowment typically have more money to grant to their students.

If you are a single child and your parents make $250K, you probably won't qualify for any grants but you can always get student loans. If you have 2 siblings in private school or college, then the college may be more flexible with financial aid. In my case, applying to William and Mary or UCLA is more expensive than applying to an Ivy League school because I'm out of state applying to a State college. The other thing I would do is use the NPC on the college websites that are not on the College Board to make sure you have all bases covered. I think only 50% of the top 100 schools are on CollegeBoard so you have to find the NPC and they look and feel a little bit different than the CB ones and they also take 10-20 minutes longer. Hope that helps.