New Tools Help Students Evaluate College Costs and Quality


Contact: Haley Chitty
Director of Communications
(202) 785-6959


Washington, DC – Oct. 31, 2011 -- The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) has published a new resource to help students and families evaluate colleges and universities and estimate the out-of-pocket costs, or “net price,” of higher education.

Estimating the net price of higher education and evaluating colleges presents a significant challenge for students and families. Fortunately, colleges and universities provide a host of consumer information to help students and families make informed decisions. NASFAA’s new college evaluation tool is designed to make families aware of the numerous sources for valuable information about cost and value at the schools they are considering.

Among other uses, these tools and disclosures help families:

  • Estimate the net price of a particular institution (the price of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid).
  • Compare institutions with high and low tuition and fees as well as high and low net prices
  • Determine the number and percentage of students at a particular school who receive student aid and the total and average amounts of student aid received
  • Assess whether prospective institutions have the appropriate accreditation and credentials to set students on the career path of their choice
  • Compare the completion/graduation rates of schools by student gender, race, and by who received various types of student aid
  • Understand the rules various institutions have in place regarding transfer of credit from one school to another
  • Assess job placement rates from school to school

However, this consumer information is limited in scope and can be easily misinterpreted. NASFAA's issue brief highlights some of the consumer information colleges provide and analyzes what this information says about a school and some of the limitations of the data. In addition to the information highlighted, schools provide many other disclosures either on their websites or in other materials that relate to job placement, campus safety and other characteristics of the school. 

“Net-price calculators—provided on colleges and universities websites—and relevant disclosures are just the latest resource colleges and universities offer to help students and families evaluate and compare schools,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “Understanding this information can help students choose the school that best fits their unique needs and interests.”

NASFAA spokespeople are available to provide context about the net price calculator, consumer disclosures, and how families can use these resources to make good decisions about college.


The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents nearly 20,000 financial aid professionals at 2,800 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. Each year, financial aid professionals help more than 16 million students receive funding for post secondary education. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit