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Panel Meets to Discuss New Net Price Data Reporting Requirements

November 6, 2008

Section 132 of the recently reauthorized Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requires all higher education institutions that participate in the federal student aid programs to provide new data that can be used to calculate their "net price" of attendance for first-time, full-time undergraduates at their institutions. Beginning in July 2010, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is required to post the institutional data to their College Navigator Web site. By August 2011, NCES also must produce a calculator for individual students and their families to estimate their own net price at their prospective postsecondary institutions. In late October, NCES empanelled a Technical Review Panel (TRP) to provide suggestions for how institutions could best meet these new reporting requirements.

Under Section 132 of the HEOA, the net price of attendance is defined as "the average yearly price actually charged to first-time, full-time undergraduate students receiving student aid at an institution of higher education after deducting such aid, which shall be determined by calculating the difference between--(A) the institution’s cost of attendance...and (B) the quotient of--(i) the total amount of need-based grant aid and merit-based grant aid, from Federal, State, and institutional sources, provided to such students...and (ii) the total number of such students receiving such need-based grant aid or merit-based grant aid..." The total cost of attendance is the "average annual cost of tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, and transportation" that are incurred by first-time undergraduates attending on a full-time basis. For public institutions, the calculations will be based on in-state or in-district tuition and fee prices.

NCES must collect the net price data from higher education institutions through its annual Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) survey series. Using the newly expanded IPEDS data, NCES must: report the average institutional net price paid by all need- and non-need-based institutional grant recipients at each institution on its College Navigator Web site; report the average net price for all federal student aid recipients (undergraduates who receive aid from the programs authorized under Title IV of the HEOA), by income categories; and develop a template to assist institutions in meeting a requirement to post a calculator that allows individual students and their families to calculate their net price. This calculator is to be developed and posted on College Navigator by August 2011.

Beginning July 1, 2010, the College Navigator site is required to post three years of average net prices (net prices for academic year 2006-07, 2007-08, and 2008-09) for each institution. In addition, NCES is required to use these average net prices to compile three of six "college affordability and transparency lists" that will indicate which institutions (by sector) have had the highest (top 5%) increases in tuition and fee and net price changes. These institutions must be included on a "watch list" and must report to the Secretary of Education any "major areas" in their budgets that have the greatest cost increases, and the steps the institutions plan to take to decrease these costs. The "watch lists" must become available on College Navigator by July 1, 2011. 

A Technical Review Panel of higher education policy and finance experts sponsored by NCES discussed how IPEDS will collect the data. A summary of suggestions will be posted to the NCES Web site for comment in the near future.

NACUBO staff resource: Ken Redd, Director, Research & Policy Analysis