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Wellesley College Tool Helps Clarify College Costs

A free online tool developed at Wellesley College is helping prospective students and their parents gauge college costs while factoring in financial aid. First introduced at Wellesley in 2013, MyinTuition has now spread to 15 institutions across the country, including Williams College and the University of Virginia.

MyinTuition asks six basic financial questions and then provides a personalized estimate of how much a particular college will cost for the prospective student. Users receive a breakdown of predicted costs to be paid by the family, work-study funds, student loan estimates and grant assistance from the institution.

The tool was created in response to the problem that too few students apply to top-notch schools because they assume they can't afford them, according to a statement from the college. "Families look at the price and walk away without thinking about financial aid possibilities because the assumption is that the cost is too high," explained Wellesley economics professor and MyinTuition creator Phillip Levine. With a simple, fast way to estimate costs, he said, "They might see that they don't have to walk away. Their son or daughter can go to the school that is the best fit for them, regardless of the sticker price."

More than 125,000 MyinTuition estimates have been provided at Wellesley, Williams and the University of Virginia so far. According to a press release, Wellesley has seen a 17 percent increase in applications this year, with the majority of that bump coming from students who plan to apply for financial aid. Williams and the University of Virginia have reported similar results.

Many schools see MyinTuition as a way to help diversify their student enrollments. "This helps bring more students from low and moderate income families into the stream of students flowing into the top schools in this country," said Levine. "It takes down a formidable barrier."

"Our hope is that by using MyIntuition, we can start a helpful conversation with families," said Seth Allen, Pomona College vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid, in a statement. "Think of it as a friendly hello to break the ice regarding affordability."

"Rice University meets 100 percent of demonstrated need of all its admitted students. Helping low-income high school students and their parents become aware that a Rice education is within their reach means they can dream big and develop their full potential," said Julie Browning, dean for undergraduate enrollment at Rice. "We believe MyinTuition is a great service to underserved high achievers, and we're proud to add this resource to our efforts to expand access to these worthy students."

For more information and to try out the tool, visit the Wellesley College site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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