Tuition Tracker shows prospective students an institution’s ‘net price’

money200How much does college cost? Somewhere between “a heck of a lot” and “not as much as you might think.”

Sure, college is expensive, but a new online tool unveiled last week, Tuition Tracker, is trying to take some of the mystery out of college pricing.

“I’ve often wondered why (colleges) have a sticker price and why colleges don’t simply charge a net price and stop acting like an airline or a used car salesman,” said Jon Marcus, higher education editor at The Hechinger Report and one of the Tuition Tracker’s producers.

The college bill starts with a sticker price. That sticker price for a year of undergraduate education includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and other personal expenses.

For some elite private schools, that number is eye-popping.

For example, Duke University will charge undergraduates about $60,500 next year. At Wake Forest University, it will be $62,538.

Public universities charge much less for their in-state students because they get state subsidies. For instance, UNCG and N.C. A&T have a sticker price of roughly $18,000 a year.

But, said Steve Brooks, executive director of the N.C. State Education Assistance Authority, which administers the state’s financial aid programs: “Nobody pays the full cost of college at any institution.”

(Next page: What students really pay)


Add your opinion to the discussion.