Many Higher Education Institutions are Misleading Prospective Students
Executive Director of Communications
March 28, 2019, Philadelphia — Today, the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn AHEAD) released a new research brief, Questioning the Calculations: Are Colleges Complying with Federal and Ethical Mandates for Providing Students with Estimated Costs?, that looks at how useable and useful Net Price Calculators (NPCs) are, finding that:
“These misleading and confusing practices have important implications for students: Students who underestimate costs may drop out of college for financial reasons before attaining a degree, while students who overestimate costs may not apply to schools they can actually afford,” said Laura Perna, Executive Director of Penn AHEAD.
Among 80 universities studied—all public or private, four-year institutions that serve high numbers of Pell Grant recipients—the researchers found:
The research brief provides recommendations and best practices for colleges and universities, and federal policymakers, to ensure prospective students have accurate, transparent information on the cost of college:
“Institutions can make simple, integral improvements to NPCs so prospective students have more accurate and easy-to-understand information on the costs of college,” said Perna. “The US Department of Education can alter the free NPC template to encourage institutions to provide more useful and usable information.”
To learn more, download:
This research was supported by a grant from Lumina Foundation. Findings and opinions are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of the funder.
Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools, most recently ranked #2 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge-building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals and unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit www.gse.upenn.edu/.