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Net-Price Calculators Get More Use, Survey Finds

A greater share of prospective students are using net-price calculators, online tools that let them estimate their bottom-line price to attend a particular college, according to a poll released on Thursday by the College Board and the Art & Science Group, a consulting firm.

Forty-four percent of college-bound seniors, who were surveyed in 2012, said they had used a calculator on at least one individual college’s Web site, up from about a quarter the year before. Colleges have been required to offer a net-price calculator on their Web sites since late 2011.

Eighteen percent of students said one of their parents had used a calculator. But use of net-price calculators was more common among high-income parents than among low-income ones. For the most part, families that had tried out calculators found them fairly easy to use, the survey found.

Still, more than half of the high schoolers indicated they had looked at what a college would cost before taking financial aid into account, similar to previous findings.

As in the past, the poll also captured students’ widespread expectation of receiving merit aid as well as their concerns about college affordability.

The online poll was completed in late 2012 by 1,138 prospective students who had taken the SAT.

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