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New Website Tells You the “True Cost” of School

As every student who has gone through the financial aid process knows, the cost a college states on its website is often dramatically different than the price you pay — and it gets even more complicated when you start looking at the number of undergraduates who receive financial aid, the average scholarship and the median amount of debt upon graduation.

That’s led Jimmy Becker, a senior executive in the data and information industry, to start Cost of Learning, a website that aims to make finding the true costs of colleges and universities easy and accessible.

“The college financial aid process is impossibly complex and a huge challenge to navigate for any mere mortal,” Becker says. “There has to be a better way.”

According to the website, the key piece of information to look at is the net price, or the cost of yearly attendance minus the scholarships and grants awarded. Work-study programs and federal loans aren’t included in this number.

The information is taken from a subset of the Department of Education along with the colleges’ own net price calculators.

According to Cost of Learning’s site, which is free for users, the estimates are provided in the hopes that “With this information, families can make better choices determining which college is best suited — and most affordable — for them.”

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Aja Frost

Cal Poly

Aja Frost is a college junior living in San Luis Obispo, California. She is equally addicted to good books and froyo, and considers the combo of the two the best since pb & b (peanut butter and banana.) Aja has been published on the Huffington Post, USA Today College, Newsweek, The Daily Muse, xoJane, and Bustle, among other publications. Follow her on Twitter: @ajavuu