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The difference between sticker price and what you will pay for college

January 7, 2021

One look at a college's sticker price and many students and their parents wonder how they will ever be able to afford higher education.

The good news is that most students do not end up paying the full sticker price for college. That's because many students receive some form of financial aid from the institution they plan to attend.

Sometimes it's referred to as a tuition discount, but what the college or university is doing is offering institutional aid to the student. Institutional aid could be grants or scholarships that are only available at that institution.

However, even knowing that most students don't pay the full sticker price, families should still make sure understand the cost of the college. Students should prepare in advance so there are no surprises when it comes time to paying for tuition or for room and board.

Most colleges and universities provide a net price calculator on their website (usually on the financial aid office page) to help students and parents estimate the cost of attending that institution.