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Colleges Now Required To Have Cost Calculator On Web Sites

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(Photo credit JENS-ULRICH KOCH/AFP/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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BOSTON (CBS) – When picking a college price plays a big role, but a new federal rule could ease the pain of college sticker shock.

College web sites will be required to include something called a net price calculator.

The calculator allows families to punch in their own personal financial information to see what they might actually be required to pay for the school.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

“For most students, they pay less than the cost of actual tuition, so don’t get scared off by the $55,000 a year price tag,” said Gregg Cohen, who works at Campus Bound in Quincy helping families through the maze of college shopping.

“Using one of these calculators, you will be able to build a list of schools that are more likely to give a better aid package,” said Cohen.

At Brandeis University, the estimated cost of attendance for tuition, fees, room, board, and other expenses is more than $56,000.

Using the calculator, a family making $75,000 a year with one child can expect that price tag to drop by about $20,000 thanks to estimated grants and loans.

It’s important to remember this isn’t a commitment of financial aid, but the estimate can at least give families an idea of the bills ahead.

The calculator has its critics, since the formula varies from college to college.

One version asks a few simple questions including GPA and SAT scores.

Others are a bigger time commitment asking for very detailed financial information.

Not all sites post the calculator right on the home page, so you may have to do some online digging.

One other thing to remember – some colleges offer larger financial aid packages to freshmen.

You may want to call the college to make sure you can expect the same amount of help through graduation.

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