Indiana State University Newsroom

New online tool lets prospective students calculate college affordability

June 1, 2011

Indiana State University has taken the mystery out of the actual cost of college. Students and families considering Indiana State can now use a sophisticated, online net price calculator that shows how much financial aid to expect, and how affordable education can be.

"While we could have met the federal government's requirement of having a net price calculator with a very basic college cost estimator, we chose a product that is more robust, has more features and generates an estimated family contribution that is much closer to reality," said John Beacon, vice president of enrollment management, marketing and communications. "This calculator is an important addition to our recruiting tool chest and is expected to help families who are considering ISU to make better informed enrollment decisions based on accurate cost estimates."

After reviewing multiple options and vendors, Indiana State chose a custom net price calculator built, hosted and supported by Student Aid Services, Inc., which has offices in Indianapolis and serves more than 335 campuses.

All 6,800 post-secondary institutions that receive federal student aid funds are required to post a net price calculator on their web sites by Oct. 29. Net price is an individual's estimated education cost after subtracting merit and need-based federal, state and institutional grants, which a student is eligible to receive, from a college's published cost of attendance, an amount also referred to as the "sticker price."

"Today, most families often don't know the full cost of a student's education until after college acceptance," said Kathleen Dawley, president of Maguire Associates, a Concord, Mass. educational research firm. "By choosing a sophisticated calculator that goes far beyond the federal minimum cost-transparency requirements, Indiana State is making its value and affordability very clear. Earlier in their planning process, students will be able to make well-informed choices."

The calculator accurately estimates merit and need-based aid, work-study eligibility, Post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon military benefits, and federal education loans so students and their families have a clearer picture of their specific, out-of-pocket costs, Beacon said.

Unique features of Indiana State's calculator include a personalized affordability analysis that projects monthly education loan payments after graduation and instant translation of the calculator into Spanish.

"A great feature of the Student Aid Services' calculator is that families can plug in a variety of variables and create a number of realistic options to help effectively meet the cost of attending college," Beacon said. "It's simply a more comprehensive product than others we considered."

Taking full advantage of advanced net price calculator technology, Indiana State is the first public university to offer students personalized notification of eligibility for its Honors Program, detailing features, benefits, and cost data, said Jeff Whorley, president of Student Aid Services.

"The Honors Program at Indiana State is a tremendous educational value and the challenge has been how to get the word out to eligible students," Whorley said. "The ‘expected honors award feature' of the university's new calculator is a big step toward attracting academically talented and motivated students to the program."

The net price calculator takes about 10 minutes to complete and requires users to provide basic academic and financial information. Students can email or print their cost estimate for easy review and immediate arrange a campus visit, talk with a financial aid advisor, or apply.

The calculator can be accessed from the university's home page or directly at

Media Contacts: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, or 812-237-3743; Mary A. C. Fallon, communications consultant, Student Aid Services, or 916-629-7050.