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Education Department Launches Video Contest to Publicize Cost of College Calculators for Students, Parents and Consumers

Challenge is part of broad Obama Administration effort to help families understand the costs of higher education and empower students to make smart educational choices

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Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov


The U.S. Department of Education today launched the College Net Price Calculator Student Video Challenge in an effort to broaden public awareness of tools on the Department’s website that help parents and students research the cost of a college degree. Net price calculators give families a better sense of how much they would actually pay to attend a particular institution by factoring in which grants and scholarship aid students may be eligible for.

“Having a college degree has never been more important. And getting one has never been more expensive,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We want to give prospective students and their families the information they need to make smart educational choices during tough economic times. Net price calculators can help potential degree seekers better understand which schools they can afford to attend and how much debt they will have to take on to get a degree. We want to make sure that students and families are aware of these resources, and the video challenge is a great way to help us get the word out.”

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 required postsecondary institutions that participate in Title IV federal student aid programs to publish net price calculators on their websites by Oct. 29. The “net price,” as opposed to the published tuition or “sticker price,” estimates a full-time student’s actual college costs by taking into account individual circumstances like family size and income, and subtracting projected grant and scholarship aid from the published cost of attendance. The Department has integrated the tool into its College Navigator website and compiled links to every school’s net price calculator, making it easier for students to compare prices at different institutions. A downloadable list is now available at: http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/resource/net_price_calculator.asp.

To help students better understand these calculators, the Department has launched the College Net Price Calculator Student Video Challenge, which asks high school and college students to produce short videos highlighting why the calculators are a valuable resource. A panel of higher education stakeholders will judge the entries, and the top three contestants will each win a $1,500 cash prize. Video submissions are due by Jan. 31, 2012, and the winner will be announced by late spring. To learn more or submit an entry, visit http://netpricecalc.challenge.gov/.

Today’s announcement is part of a broader Administration effort to address the rising cost of college and the struggles families face paying for higher education. Earlier this month, top Administration officials joined President Obama to host a roundtable discussion with college presidents on strategies to reduce college costs while improving quality. During the meeting, the President conveyed the urgent need to pursue bold and innovative solutions to help more Americans attain a higher education at an affordable price.

In addition, Vice President Biden and Secretary Duncan traveled to Neptune Beach, Fla., this month to talk to high school students and their families about the importance of college and the steps the Administration has taken to keep college affordable, and they called on colleges and universities to do their part to contain costs and ensure college remains within reach for the middle class. In late November, Secretary Duncan addressed thousands of financial aid professionals at the Federal Student Aid annual conference, stressing the need to contain the cost of college and limit student debt. In his remarks, he asked the entire higher education community to look ahead and start thinking more creatively — and with much greater urgency — about how to contain the spiraling costs of college and reduce the burden of student debt.