Each year schools are required by law to update the information used in their Net Price Calculator (NPC). The U.S. Department of Education (ED) provides an updated template annually. ED’s plan is that it will usually be available in January each year for the most recently completed award year. As an example, this year ED has released the updated template on January 27, 2014 for updating a school’s NPC utilizing data from the 2012-2013 award year. (The 2012-2013 award year is the most recently completed award year prior to the release of the updated template). This year’s updated template was released in the January 27, 2014 Electronic Announcement.
The purpose of the NPC is to assist interested parties such as prospective students and their parents in understanding the estimated “net price” of attendance at the school before they actually enroll. It also serves as a tool in comparing the net price of any number of schools before finally deciding which school they desire to attend. Any school that enrolls full-time undergraduate students in a degree or certificate program must provide a NPC on their Web site that may be used for these purposes.
Schools may choose to use one of several different Net Price Calculators that are commercially available from numerous vendors, as long as the product meets the standards of the law. However, many schools do, in reality, choose to use ED’s NPC due to its certainty of being a calculator that is in compliance with the requirements of the law and the fact that it is provided at no cost.
The direct link to ED’s NPC Information Center which contains its latest template for 2012-2013 data is https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/resource/net_price_calculator.asp. The NPC Information Center also contains further helpful resources to use as a school updates their NPC. These resources will include, among others, a set of frequently asked questions as well as the Quick Start Guide.
ED has not formally indicated a deadline for updating a school’s NPC information now that the updated template for 2012-2013 data is released. However, schools should be aware that it is an annual requirement according to the law to update their NPC. Also, informal guidance from ED indicates that it is reasonable to expect that schools should have the template updated within 30 days of when ED releases the template. As a reminder, the template was released on January 27, 2014 this year. Therefore, schools should be working expeditiously to update their NPC with the 2012-2013 data.