Last year, we did a podcast on college tuition which discussed the growing gap between a college’s “sticker price” and the actual tuition paid by low- and middle-income working families. In order to demystify this gap — and help low-income families understand that many expensive private colleges are actually well within their reach — Wellesley College has just released a “Quick College Cost Estimator” calculator.
“The conversation that takes place around college costs is largely misguided,” Phillip B. Levine, an economics professor at Wellesley, told David Leonhardt of the Times. “People focus only on the sticker price. The sticker price is a meaningful statistic for roughly 40 percent of our students. The majority of our students are receiving financial aid, and for them the sticker price is an irrelevant number.” While The College Board and Harvard have similar calculators, Leonhardt likes the simplicity of Wellesley’s version. “The larger point is that Wellesley’s calculator is a significant step in the growing effort to spread accurate information about college costs,” writes Leonhardt. “As Mr. Levine says, the widespread misunderstanding of tuition ‘closes a door to people that shouldn’t be closed.'”