Simulation: How Much Will Your College Actually Cost?

Oct 21, 2015
Activity, Paying for College, Student Loans, Teaching Strategies, Current Events, Math

NGPF has lots of great activities to help students discern the differences between sticker and net prices.  I stumbled across this simulation at Planet Money where you can type in the name of a college and you get a graph showing the “net price” for that college relative to “sticker price” and most importantly understand how the net price varies based on family income.

Here is an example using Stanford University:

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.10.33 PM

The key points in the article that accompany the simulation are:

  • There are significant differences between what students from low income and high income families pay, particularly at elite private universities.
  • The cost curve for public universities is flatter
  • At private universities, almost no one pays full price

It looks like your students can only do one college at a time but have them pull out some graph paper and chart their top 5 schools (be sure to include some state colleges) and see if they can distill the key points based on their analysis.  Enjoy!


About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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