MyinTuition: Wellesley College’s Fast, Free Tool to Help Students and Parents Estimate College Costs Goes National
WELLESLEY, Mass. – It is a rite for any parent with a child approaching college. Their children are bright high school sophomores and juniors so they search for the best schools. Some look at the costs and recoil, thinking that the price is more than they can afford.
In 2013, Wellesley College introduced a fast, user-friendly tool that has given families a more accurate way to gauge costs while factoring in financial aid. Williams College and University of Virginia adopted Wellesley’s tool in 2015. Since then, applications at Wellesley, Williams, and U.Va are up, with about 90% of that increase coming from students planning to apply for financial aid.
MyinTuition has proved so successful that starting today, 12 more schools are adopting the tool. This broader reach means that thousands of other parents and their children may pursue education paths that they might have otherwise ignored for fear that the costs were out of reach. The schools are colleges and universities of different sizes and located in every region of the United States. The tool is made available on each of the college’s websites, as well as on myintuition.org.
According to Paula Johnson, President of Wellesley College, MyinTuition has the potential to change how students and families approach the college selection process. “We want every family, no matter their socioeconomic status, to look at a school like Wellesley and see possibility and opportunity, not barriers. MyinTuition's story is really about all the students who find their way into colleges they might have never considered--and who reach their fullest potential because of it,” she said.
The 15 schools that offer MyinTuition are:
- Amherst College
- Bowdoin College
- Carleton College
- Columbia University
- Colorado College
- Dartmouth College
- Mount Holyoke College
- Pomona College
- Rice University
- University of Virginia
- Vassar College
- Washington and Lee University
- Wellesley College
- Wesleyan University
- Williams College
MyinTuition was driven by the knowledge that too few students apply to top-notch schools because they assume they cannot afford them. Since a high-quality college education is an important pathway to upward economic mobility in the United States, this is a critical issue across the country.
Now, equipped with a simple, fast way to estimate costs, more parents may find that they can send their children to top schools, said Wellesley’s Katharine Corman and A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Economics, Phillip B. Levine, who developed MyinTuition.
“Families look at the price and walk away without thinking about financial aid possibilities because the assumption is that the cost is too high,” said Levine. With MyinTuition, parents and prospective students can look closer and see a clearer picture of what a college education will cost them at a top school. “They might see that they don’t have to walk away,” explained Levine. “Their son or daughter can go to the school that is the best fit for them, regardless of the sticker price.”
In 2011, the federal government mandated that colleges and universities offer a “net price calculator” to provide prospective students with an estimate of the cost of enrollment and financial aid possibilities. They are in place but parents often must answer to a dizzying puzzle of questions that require detailed answers to questions about family finances, including information from tax returns.
“It’s daunting and intimidating especially if you are a mom or dad and this is your first child to go off to college,” said Levine. “Financial help is often available if a child qualifies to be admitted, but the sticker shock and the process scares people away.”
Unlike many college cost calculators, MyinTuition does not intimidate. It informs parents through a user-friendly process that asks six basic financial questions in order to provide personalized estimates of what it would cost a family to send their child or daughter to a particular college.
It takes the average user about three minutes to complete and gives parents a breakdown of the estimated costs paid by the family, work-study, and loan estimates, in addition to grant assistance provided by the institution.
“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.”
In doing so, MyinTuition can help colleges diversify their student enrollments. “We see MyinTuition as particularly useful for families early in their college search. Especially to differentiate the ‘sticker price’ of a private college from real and institution-specific financial aid resources,” said Sally Richmond, vice president for admissions and financial aid at Washington and Lee.
"Our hope is that by using MyIntuition, we can start a helpful conversation with families,” says Seth Allen, Pomona College vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid. “Think of it as a friendly hello to break the ice regarding affordability."
Julie Browning, dean for undergraduate enrollment at Rice University, said, “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. 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.”
More than 125,000 estimates have been provided at Wellesley, Williams and the University of Virginia so far.
According to Joy St. John, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Wellesley, where all applications are up this year by 17 percent, MyinTuition helps schools fulfill their commitments to access, affordability, and transparency around college costs. “We want even more students and families to realize that top colleges are within reach for any qualified student, regardless of their financial situation,” she said.
About Wellesley College
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an outstanding liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to some 2,400 undergraduate students from 49 states and 58 countries.
Chief Communications Officer:
Elizabeth Gildersleeve, Wellesley College, 781-283-2376, firstname.lastname@example.org