How To Predict Tuition Costs Before You Open Your Wallet

College tuition shows no signs of receding to sane levels and now more than ever, parents are sending their kids off to college only to be hit with sticker shock once they get that first tuition bill in the mail.

There are ways to anticipate how much tuition will cost before committing to college, however. First, dust off those calculators.

According to Daily Finance‘s Laura Rowley, most universities and colleges are required by federal law to provide net tuition calculators on their websites.

To use them, just plug in a few bits of information about your kid’s college plans (intended major, degree level, etc.) et voila: The site will churn out a quick estimate, and you’ll have an idea how bad your wallet is going to get burned. 

To be on the safe side, Rowley suggests calling up the school’s financial aid office to make sure your calcuations precisely match theirs. When it comes to the fields on the calculator, Rowley says it takes at least 30 queries to get an accurate estimate.

Also, be weary of colleges that “front load,” she said, as these schools might boast high percentages of new enrollments when the real number to look at is how many students actually matriculate. If that number is significantly lower than the former, it could indicate rising tuition costs that will elbow out students over the years.

For more helpful tips on avoiding tuition bill shock, watch the video on Daily Finance.

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