Net Price Calculator Improvement Act Introduced In House

Karen McCarthy, NASFAA Policy Staff

Legislation introduced yesterday by Rep. Cummings (D-MD) seeks to improve existing net price calculators (NPC) and permits the Department of Education (ED) to develop a consumer-tested universal NPC.

The Net Price Calculator Improvement Act seeks to correct some perceived shortcomings of NPCs by doing the following:

  • Require that net price calculators be placed prominently in locations on the school web site where information on costs/aid is provided
  • More clearly specify the required outputs of the NPC
  • Require that NPCs that estimate eligibility for Veterans Administration (VA) and active duty benefits clearly distinguish these benefits from grant aid
  • Require that NPCs that don’t include eligibility estimates for VA or active duty benefits include a link to information about these benefit programs
  • Require that NPC data be from no more than 2 years prior to the most recently completed award year
  • Prohibit use of personally-identifiable data collected in NPCs by third parties
  • Require that contact information or additional questions in a NPC be clearly labeled as optional
  • Allow (not require) the Secretary to develop a universal NPC, tested by consumers and evaluated by FAAs, that would permit students and families to answer one set of questions and receive net price information from any school required to have a NPC

Several of the above provisions are recommended best practices by ED, but are not currently specified in the statute. Institutions who are already complying with the above provisions would not be required to make any changes to their NPC. 

It is important to note that the legislation authorizes ED to implement a universal calculator, but does not require it.

NASFAA continues to support steps making NPCs a more useful and informative tool for students and families in the college search process. 

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