A new tool for calculating the cost of college hopes to cut down on sticker shock.
MyinTuition is an online questionnaire that produces an estimate for what families will actually pay for a student’s yearly tuition – as opposed to the stated price on the college or university’s website.
“By my calculation, something like 90% of households in the United States would qualify for financial aid, which would bring their price down below the $70,000 or the big numbers that you typically hear,” Wellesley economics professor and MyinTuition creator Phillip Levine told WBUR.
Too few families realize the sticker price isn’t what they’ll end up paying, Levine found, so he created the platform to demystify the experience of finding affordable colleges.
“This tool can be particularly helpful for students from low- and middle-income families who may have misconceptions about the true cost of higher- education opportunities,” the MyinTuition site reads. “The tool can show students and families that top colleges are within reach for qualified students, regardless of their financial situation.”
So far, the site lets students and families explore their options at 15 schools around the US, including Dartmouth, Columbia, Vassar, Amherst, and, of course, Wellesley.
Users input a number of demographic data to determine how much financial aid they’re likely to receive. That includes whether their parents are married or divorced, their parents’ combined income, how much their house is worth, and the value of their savings and retirement accounts.
At the end of the survey, MyinTuition spits out a Best, Low, and High Estimate for how much parents and students will need to chip in and how much need-based scholarship they can expect to receive.
Over time, Levine hopes the tool can help high-achieving students from low-income families increase their presence at elite universities.
“Elite colleges miss too many high-achieving students who never apply because of cost misconceptions,” the site reads. “MyinTuition can demonstrate that a top college is within reach – and it could even be the most affordable higher-education option.”