The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, requires the U.S. Department of Education to make publicly available on its College Navigator website information about the average net price of each postsecondary institution that participates in Title IV federal student aid programs.
The HEA defines institutional net price as “the average yearly price actually charged to first-time, full-time undergraduate students receiving student aid at an institution of higher education after deducting such aid.” Essentially, net price moves beyond an institution’s “sticker price” and provides students and families with an idea of how much a first-time, full-time undergraduate student who was awarded aid pays to attend a particular institution after grant or scholarship aid is subtracted from the published cost of attendance.
It is required by law. According to the HEA, the Department must make available to the public on its College Navigator website information about average net price for all postsecondary institutions that participate in Title IV federal student aid programs.
Data used to calculate average net price come from an institution’s annual submission to the Student Financial Aid component of the Department’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). For more information about IPEDS, please visit http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/Home/AboutIpeds.
Average net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant and scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees (lower of in-district or in-state for public institutions), books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses.
The HEA requires that average net price be calculated for two groups of students:
For public institutions, average net price is calculated only for students who paid the in-state or in-district tuition rate.
An institution’s average net price can be viewed on its profile page on College Navigator (http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/).
The data used to calculate an institution’s average net price is available through the Department’s IPEDS Data Center (http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter).
Finally, the average net price is used for the College Affordability and Transparency Lists and the College Scorecard, both available through the Department’s College Affordability and Transparency Center (http://collegecost.ed.gov). The Lists highlight institutions with high and low tuition and fees as well as high and low net prices, and show institutions where tuition and fees and net prices are increasing at the highest rates. The Scorecard helps student learn more about a college’s affordability and value so they can make more informed decisions about which college to attend.
For more information, contact the IPEDS Student Financial Aid Survey Director.
Updated February 2019