What is average net price?



Financial Aid

MIchelle Kretzschmar

little girl and boy researching what is average net price



What does it mean?

Average Net Price is a term defined by the federal government which is the average amount students paid to attend a college after deducting gift aid. According to CollegeNavigator, the college search website for the National Center for Education Statistics,

Average net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant or scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees, books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses.

How does it affect how much you pay for college?

Knowing about average net price can help families identify colleges most likely to provide aid. As families start the college search process, they’ll often hear that few students actually pay full price because of financial aid. Average net price is probably the best indicator of the role of financial aid.

The following table shows colleges with a total cost of attendance between $61,000 and $62,000. The average net price varies from a low of $18,028 to a high of $48,632.

table showing average net price and total cost for select colleges

When looking at average net price, it’s critical to remember that it is an average. This means families can’t make any assumption of how much their student will specifically receive based strictly on average net price.

For example, while Washington and Lee University has the lowest average net price, it’s the result of less than half of their students receiving very large average awards of over $43,000. At Grinnell, students are much more likely to receive aid since over 91% of freshman received some institutional aid although the average was only $29,303. This is why you want to use net price calculator for any college you are considering.

Where can you learn more?

The CollegeNavigator website lists the average net price for all colleges along with information on institutional awards.

  • Focus on Net Price, Not Sticker Price
  • Average Institutional Net Price FAQs
  • What’s the difference between average net price and cost of attendance?






Stay Informed

Get updates on financial aid and how to pay for college.