MyinTuition Use Surges Across the Country

MyinTuition Use Surges Across the Country
May 8, 2017

MyinTuition, Wellesley College’s fast, user-friendly tool for estimating costs for a student to attend a four-year college, is helping to boost applications from low-income students according to a recent news report by WGBH. Wellesley launched MyinTuition in 2013 and expanded it to the University of Virginia and Williams College in 2015. Last month,12 additional schools across the country made it available on their websites; since then, 15,000 new users have obtained 30,000 estimates with the tool, and the numbers are growing.

The inventor of MyinTuition, Phillip Levine, Katharine Coman and A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Economics at Wellesley, says 18 more colleges and universities have contacted him about using the tool since the expansion. He attributes the surge in usage to its fulfillment of “a need for information on college costs that has been sorely lacking. Parents want clarity in determining what it will cost to send their kids to college. This is serving a huge need. If you are the parent of a high school student, the most important question is, ‘How much?’”

Indeed, the story, which aired on WGBH Radio and was posted online to “On Campus,” the station’s higher education section, said the Wellesley tool has led to an increase in applications from families that might otherwise have bypassed schools they considered too expensive without even researching costs.

“Qualified students and their families can avail themselves of financial aid, but they don’t know it if they don’t have a clear way to see the full picture,” said Levine, who recently wrote two opinion pieces for Slate about the tool.

The WGBH story featured an account of one student, Kisha James, and her mother, Mahtowin Munro, who assumed they would not be able to afford the cost of Wellesley.

Wellesley student Kisha James

A guidance counselor encouraged James to take a look. She did. By using MyinTuition, James and her mother learned that they could actually afford Wellesley after taking advantage of financial aid options. To their delight, James has been accepted and will enroll at Wellesley this fall. She will contribute a portion of her wages from summer jobs and work-study, but her family contribution is zero.

“My financial aid form that came after I got accepted was pretty much identical to what I got (through the calculator),” said James in the interview. “Crazy reasonable.”

One benefit of the tool, said Levine, is that it will increase the number of bright students from low-income backgrounds, like James, who will at the very least check to see if their families can afford top-tier schools.

MyinTuition is free, quick, and can be used anonymously. Parents need to answer just six questions on topics including home ownership status and annual income; the three-minute process is much faster—and more accurate—than that required by the typical net price calculator.