Purdue offers online college cost-planning tool for students, parents
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's Division of Financial Aid has upgraded an online tool that allows families to plan for college costs and determine what kind of financial support is likely to be available to them at Purdue.
The Purdue Financial Aid Estimator gives prospective and current students and parents an instant estimate of the need- and merit-based aid they could receive, said Joyce Hall, Division of Financial Aid executive director.
The Purdue Financial Aid Estimator is online at http://www.purdue.edu/dfa/estimator
"The cost of higher education can seem insurmountable for many families," Hall said. "Some students see the annual price tag and think, 'That's it. I can't go to college.' With our estimator, we can combat that myth and provide students an immediate idea of what their estimated net cost will be, and what kinds of grants, scholarships, loans and other funding options may be available to help families meet college costs."
Total financial aid and other financial support for students on Purdue's West Lafayette campus for 2009-10 is estimated at $510 million - the most ever - and three out of four Purdue students receive some type of financial assistance. Purdue is continuing to raise money for new scholarships such as Marquis, the only university-provided scholarship in Indiana designed specifically to help good students from middle-class families.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires that all colleges and universities offer an online net price calculator by August 2011. Net price is defined as the total estimated cost of college less scholarships and grants the student can receive. Purdue has offered financial aid estimates through a paper process for years but created the Purdue Financial Aid Estimator last year, well ahead of the new federal mandate.
The Purdue Financial Aid Estimator was upgraded in August to provide aid and cost estimates for the 2009-10 academic year while also utilizing merit-based scholarship criteria for the 2010-11 academic year. Anyone can use the anonymous tool, and Hall said families with younger students also could find it a valuable resource.
Hall said universities, including Purdue, often provide information on the average amount of financial aid each student receives, but an individual student's amount hinges on a variety of factors, such as academic history, financial need and if the student qualifies for any specific programs or scholarships. Therefore, an average is not an effective planning tool for individuals, she said.
To receive an individual estimate of costs and aid eligibility, users will be asked to respond to a few questions, such as residency, high school core GPA, SAT or ACT test scores, and expected family contribution figures (as determined by an independent online calculator).
The site's results are based on an estimate of current educational expenses, availability of funding sources and scholarship criteria that are subject to change, Hall said. The estimator was developed for both in- and out-of-state undergraduate students. Because many grants, loans and scholarships are restricted to U.S. citizens and permanent U.S. residents, the estimator is not intended for international students, she said.
All estimates of financial aid awards assume that an incoming freshman will apply for fall 2010 enrollment by Nov. 15, 2009, the deadline for merit-based scholarships. Students also must file the 2010-11 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, by the March 1, 2010, priority deadline. Opportunities for financial aid can be significantly reduced if those deadlines are not met, Hall said.
Purdue will not store any of the data provided on the site. To receive actual financial aid awards, students must submit the FAFSA for each year they attend Purdue.
Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Joyce Hall, 765-494-5090, email@example.com