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Determining the Total Cost of College

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Consider the out-of-pocket cost (cost of attendance minus any scholarships or grants) as opposed to net cost (cost of attendance minus the financial aid package) when evaluating college costs. Net cost includes loans, which need to be repaid, usually with interest, while out-of-pocket cost tells you how much the college is really going to cost you and your family. All colleges must now provide a net price calculator on their web sites. These calculators estimate the out-of-pocket cost. Some calculators may highlight a net cost figure in addition to a net price figure; don’t confuse the two. There may be differences in accuracy from college to college. Net price calculators can be used to evaluate whether a college is inside or outside the ballpark of affordability, but the results for different colleges may not be comparable.
(Excerpt from Fastweb.com)

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