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Panel Meets to Discuss Multiyear Tuition and Net Price Calculators

March 12, 2009

On January 27-28, 2009, the National Center for Education Statistics, convened a meeting of the IPEDS Technical Review Panel (TRP) in Washington, DC. The purpose of this meeting was to solicit input from the postsecondary community on the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requirements for:

  • Developing a multi-year tuition calculator for the College Navigator Web site.
  • Developing a template for a net price calculator to be posted on individual institutions’ Web sites.

HEOA provisions require the Department of Education (ED) to develop a multi-year tuition calculator that computes a forecast of the tuition and required fees that a student would expect to pay annually and cumulatively for normal time to completion. The calculator must be made available on the College Navigator Web site by August 14, 2009.

Some of the TRP suggestions include: Focusing the attention on high school students, and restricting the calculating start year for forecasts to a maximum of five years from current data available; providing context boxes on the survey forms for institutions to provide contextual information about the data and any special circumstances that may apply to the institution; and displaying this information in the multiyear tuition calculator.

Starting in August 2011, each post-secondary institution must post a net price calculator on its Web site that uses institutional data to provide estimated net price information customized to the characteristics of individual students. Institutions may use either a net price calculator developed by the ED or one developed by the institution--as long as the calculator they develop includes, at a minimum, the same data elements found in the U.S. Department of Education’s calculator.

The panel suggested that the ED template focus on estimates for full-time undergraduate students. Institutions that develop their own calculators could also include part-time and/or post-baccalaureate students. In the ED template, the TRP suggested that users be asked eight questions that would be used to establish the student’s dependency status, cost of attendance, and an approximated expected family contribution (EFC). Using the data inputted by a student, the calculator will estimate the student’s dependency status, approximate EFC, and price of attendance. It will then "look up" the average net price for a student meeting the same criteria in data tables.

Summary with all the suggestions

Note: A previous IPEDS Technical Review Panel meeting was previously held on October 28-29, 2008 to address the new data collection needed to meet reporting requirements associated with provisions one and two.

NACUBO staff resource is: Santiago Merea, Research Associate.