The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Students applying to Penn’s Class of 2016 will have a new tool to help them in the admissions process.

On Thursday, Student Financial Services launched its first-ever net-price calculator — an online device that aims to give students and families an estimate of financial aid awards, as well as an overall price tag for a Penn education.

The calculator is mandated by the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which requires all colleges and universities in the country to launch their version of the calculator by Oct. 29.

In a Sept. 25 Daily Pennsylvanian article, Director of Student Financial Aid Bill Schilling said the calculator could cause problems for the University because its results “may diverge significantly from actual aid awards.”

Though Schilling still feels some of that apprehensiveness today, he said a series of recent dry runs with the calculator have “definitely put my mind at ease.”

“It gives a pretty good estimate of Penn’s ballpark price … and I think that’s going to be particularly helpful for our lower-income students,” he said. “Whenever you put effort into something like this, you’re always pleased to see the finished product.”

Penn President Amy Gutmann agreed.

“This calculator can make it clear as clear can be a very simple message: Penn is affordable,” she said.

Schilling did, however, express lingering anxiety over the fact that the calculator does not have the capacity to reflect an accurate net price for students facing atypical financial situations.

Regardless, students were pleased to learn of the calculator’s creation.

“It’s going to be really interesting to see what my net cost is,” said Julianna Quazi, a senior at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pa., who is applying to Penn early decision this year. Though Quazi — whose parents are both currently unemployed — said having enough money to pay for college is a major concern, she does not think the calculator’s results will influence her decision to apply.

“It’s important to keep in mind that this is an estimate, not a final price,” Quazi said, adding that she will “definitely” try the calculator before submitting her early decision application by the Nov. 1 deadline. “Education is extremely important to us, and we’re willing to pay a certain amount for Penn because of that.”

College sophomore and Latino Coalition Chairman of Admissions and Recruitment Luis Vargas — who receives University financial aid — said the calculator marks a positive development for current students, as well, because it presents an opportunity to revisit net price if financial circumstances have changed.

Penn’s calculator, which is based on the College Board’s model, is currently accessible through both the SFS and College Board websites.

“We’re certainly going to continue to tweak the calculator as we move along,” Schilling said, “but I think we’re going to see it serve as a useful tool for a lot of our applicants.”

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.