Tuition, books, room and board, fees, transportation, entertainment... It doesn’t take long for the costs of going to college to add up. With estimates ranging from $10,000 annually for community colleges to over $60,000 annually for private colleges, students want to know the specific costs associated with your institution. The best way to provide this information is with a comprehensive net price calculator.
According to the 2018 E-Expectations Trend Report, calculator results were the most influential resource for seniors, ranking even above websites. Students are paying attention to college costs, and they want to know exact figures. In fact, one student commented that while she likes using the net price calculator on school websites, most of them provide only ranges and don’t include scholarships.
So how can you make your net price calculator useful to students?
Make it mobile-friendly.
Mobile responsiveness is a must for prospective students, with 33% of seniors and 35% of juniors reporting that they have completed a cost calculator on their mobile device.
Build scholarship and aid into your calculator.
Three out of four students cite scholarship information as critical to their search. Seeing the bottom line helps students determine whether your institution is a good fit financially.
Make your net price calculator comprehensive.
Your calculator needs to account for as much data as possible to show prospective students a clear picture of costs. To keep students engaged throughout the process, start to show eligible aid as they enter information instead of saving the complete estimate for the end.
Keep it streamlined.
Even as you try to capture as much information as possible, the process needs to be quick and easy. Provide a checklist up front on the figures they need to complete the calculator, and pare requests throughout to only what is needed to provide an accurate estimate. This is not the time to gather data that might be useful for a different project.
Personalize the experience.
Use your calculator to build relationships with students by making them aware through the process of all aid they could receive. Include sections by major, student data, and academic ability that might increase their aid eligibility. And don’t just stop when the estimate is calculated. Send links of the results to students and parents, and reminders for when crucial scholarship applications are due.
Like any other tool you provide prospective students on your website, the net price calculator should make it easy for students to picture themselves at your school. Knowing realistic costs up front is often a deciding factor on whether they should continue the admissions process.
Learn more about net price calculators and other data important to prospective students by downloading the 2018 E-Expectations Trend Report.