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The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has released the 2019 update to the Net Price Calculator (NPC) template.

As is the annual routine, without fanfare, the latest NPC template was recently released.  As has become the practice in recent years, the template is updated and posted on the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) Web site, under the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) on a page called the “Net Price Calculator Information Center.”  Although ED has indicated that the financial aid community would be notified of updates to the template via an Electronic Announcement on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals’ (IFAP) Web page, that has not happened in several years.

The direct link to the January 2019 NPC Template is https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/netpricecalculator/#/.

The new NPC template appears to have been posted in late January, 2019, although the date of its posting is not provided on the Net Price Calculator Information Center page (which shows as being last updated on January 18, 2018). 

Many will recall that the NPC Quick Start Guide is a useful tool in the completion of the NPC Template.  The direct link to the January 2019 edition of the NPC Quick Start Guide is: 

https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/netpricecalculator/wwwroot/documents/NetPriceCalculator_QuickStartGuide.pdf.

Note that the Quick Start Guide seems simply to be a reprint of the prior version that is in a different color this year, and it provides a different “screenshot template” (somewhat similar to when one may change a PowerPoint template).  Otherwise, the screenshot “data” and text of the Quick Start Guide appear to be verbatim to last year’s.  For instance, there is not even an update to the years, etc. in the illustrations.  See this as an example in Step 1 on page 7:   “Only two representative years will be available at any time – currently this includes 2015-16 and 2016-17.  Since the HEA requires that the Net Price Calculator be based on data from actual full-time, first time undergraduate students who have attended your institution, you must select the most recent completed academic year for which data are available.”  That should have been updated to 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.  Similarly, no changes have been made throughout the Guide, that we were able to detect.

When we inquired of the NPC Help Desk about the lack of updates, they responded:

“We are aware the webpage is in need of updating. We are working with the Department of Education to update their Net Price Calculator Information website.  All of the regulatory information and frequently asked questions on the page are still relevant, even though the template years on the page are out of date.  The template Quick Start Guide can be found by selecting ‘Click for Help’ at the top of the template website.”

It is important to keep in mind that ED does expect institutions to update their NPC Template in a timely manner once it is posted.  Historically, it has been commented that updating within 30 days is considered timely.  For a more thorough review of information related to the NPC and the annual update of the NPC Template, please refer to our FAME Regulatory Bulletin posted on the FAME Web site on March 19, 2018.

Should you have any questions regarding the information in this edition of our DYK, please feel free to contact FAME Customer Service through the Client Solution Center.

Publication Date:  February 28, 2019

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This material is presented for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be giving legal advice.