Know Your Financial Situation and Estimate Your Net Price of College Today

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Know Your Financial Situation and Estimate Your Net Price of College Today

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Filling out your FAFSA is the way to ultimately discover how much financial aid you will receive.  But if you’re an incoming student who would rather not wait for the months-long period it could take to see the results, a way exists to estimate your financial aid package without any wait.

Almost every four-year college nationwide uses a form of the Net Price Calculator (NPC), an online application that estimates the amount of financial aid new students will receive, along with the cost they will be responsible for out of pocket at a certain college based on their financial information. It’s useful for both students still deciding on a school and students who have already committed to their school and are just eager to know how much aid they may receive.

The NPC is primarily designed to give you an estimate as if you were an incoming first-year student attending school full-time. The application is not designed for transfer and part-time students and therefore will not give an accurate estimate in regards to those two types of students. Furthermore, the NPC is not designed for students already attending a university.

Finding this estimate is a quick process of about 20 minutes, much quicker than the months-long process of waiting for your financial aid notification. It is important to emphasize that this is nothing more than an estimate and that there is absolutely no guarantee that you will receive the same award as the NPC estimates.

“The results that it generates are not final decisions. They are solely estimates based on the limited information that is provided,” Lindsay Smith, a Pitt Financial Aid Counselor said.

In addition to being quick, filling out the NPC is also a straightforward process. You can sign into the application with your College Board username and password, or as a guest. If you are still deciding which college to attend, signing in through the College Board will allow you to receive an estimate from multiple schools without having to re-enter your information.

According to Smith, students filling out the NPC are asked to provide a mix of demographic, academic and financial information. The necessary academic information is similar to the information students provide when filling out college applications.

“In regards to academic information, it will ask for the student’s high school GPA, high school ranking percentage, SAT and ACT scores and intended major.” Smith said.

The necessary financial aid information tends to mirror the information students provide when filling out FAFSA’s.

“Financial information will also need to be completed for the student and their parents including earned income from work and other untaxed income, current assets in cash or checking/savings accounts, and a few other questions relating to deductions and credits on the tax returns.” Smith said.

The NPC is a worthwhile estimate to access before attending college, even if you don’t believe you will receive any financial aid. You might be surprised by how many students receive aid from Pitt. In the previous academic year of 2015-16, 53 percent of full-time beginning undergraduates received some type of aid in the form of grants and scholarships, according to Pitt’s NPC section of the College Board.

If you have decided you are attending Pitt, or any other school, it’s time to start thinking about how to pay for school, and waiting for your FAFSA results to do could be more time-consuming than expected. Now is the time to see how much you will have to pay out of pocket, so that you can check what resources you have, and what additional resources you may need to utilize. The NPC provides an immersive estimate that will give you a holistic view of your estimated college expenses.

“Not only does the Net Price Calculator help students estimate their financial aid award, it also gives students estimated out-of-pocket expenses for attending that school.” Smith Said.

A link to the NPC can be found on Pitt’s financial aid site ( under the financial aid tab.

Financial planning is an important element of preparing for college, and you should utilize every resource available. The NPC is a helpful accommodation provided by colleges nationwide, including Pitt. Regardless of your financial situation, the NPC is a useful way to estimate your financial aid amount and net expenses so you can begin planning for college as early as possible. Just 20 minutes of your time now will put you months ahead in your college preparation.

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