Online calculator helps military personnel, veterans estimate college costs
Newman University was among only seven colleges and universities in the nation to begin offering a new, online financial aid calculator that helps current or former military personnel determine the cost of attending the school. The calculator is part of a government mandate that institutions of higher learning must make such tools available to military personnel and veterans.
By law, nearly 7,000 post-secondary institutions offering federal student aid must post a net price calculator on their websites by Oct. 29, 2011. Newman had already offered an online financial aid estimator to provide prospective freshman and transfer students an estimate of how much financial aid they might receive at Newman. The calculator on the Newman website now incorporates ThinkAhead Net Price calculator technology developed by Student Aid Services, Inc., which shows veterans and current service members their total aid eligibility, net price, and out-of-pocket costs.
The Newman calculator is available at http://newmanu.studentaidcalculator.com.
“I think this calculator will be a great tool for those utilizing military benefits,” said Newman Director of Financial Aid Brenda Krehbiel. “Our original calculator for freshman and transfer students was very helpful, and this should also be of great value to veterans and members of the military.”
The calculator is designed to show veterans and active duty military personnel the benefits available through the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and to show that there are often additional programs and benefits for service members. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), more than 285,000 current and future student veterans have received in excess of $3.6 billion – an average of about $16,000 each – since August, 2009 when the law and its Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program began providing benefits.
The Yellow Ribbon program allows qualifying veterans, active duty personnel and their family members the opportunity to attend a private university like Newman at a greatly reduced cost. Newman has participated in the program since its inception. Under the program, qualifying students receive a subsidy from the VA for tuition and fees that equal tuition and fees of the most expensive Kansas public institution. The VA then matches dollar-for-dollar the contributions a participating institution makes toward tuition costs (tuition, mandatory fees, and in some cases other costs) above that level. Newman has pledged to meet up to 50 percent of the difference between the initial subsidy and the cost of attending Newman. That means qualified students can attend Newman for little to no out-of-pocket cost.
The calculator was developed by former U.S. Army cavalry officer David Childress, who was unable to find the financial aid information he needed before applying to graduate schools. Childress is now general manager at Student Aid Services. According to the company, the calculator provides accurate estimates by mirroring an institution’s aid packaging policies and requirements, and all federal, state, and institution-based aid.
“Our calculators offer a unique benefit by matching a prospective student’s particular financial and academic circumstances with an institution’s specific method of making education affordable through merit and need-based aid as well as Post 9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon benefits,” said Childress. He added that this approach relieves the anxiety students may have about how much total aid they should expect to receive to help pay education costs.
Student Aid Services is a private company headquartered in Sacramento, Calif. Its affiliate, StudentAid.com, provides consumers side-by-side comparisons of aid eligibility, net prices, and out-of-pocket costs for colleges of their choice as an early step in college planning. For more information on the company and its calculator, visit www.StudentAid.com.