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Estimate your college cost

Online tools and calculators can help you estimate how much a specific college will cost. Knowing that helps you compare schools more accurately and choose the best one for you.

Know what college costs include

Start by understanding what is included in the total cost of college. Look at the costs for the specific schools you are considering and identify:

  • Other expenses to plan for
  • Ways to cut costs
  • How to compare costs of colleges

Use tools to help you find schools 

These tools from the Department of Education can help you find the best colleges for your budget.

  • College Navigator - Search schools for those that meet your academic and financial needs. 
  • College Scorecard - Compare schools by price, field of study, and other criteria.
  • Net Price Calculator Center - Learn the estimated price you will pay to attend a certain school. It factors in scholarships and grants the school might award you.

List the schools you are interested in on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The schools will be notified and may make financial aid offers.

Calculate costs after receiving financial aid offers

Once you receive a financial aid offer, learn how to calculate the school's actual net cost to you. This is the amount you will pay, minus financial aid and any savings you have for your education.

If you get more than one offer, compare them using Your Financial Path to Graduation. This tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helps you understand each offer. It shows how much in costs you will have to cover, and if you can afford the school.

LAST UPDATED: February 27, 2024


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