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College aid — the daunting calculus

New tool aims to help make sense of it all

Akeasia Edwards, 18, her mother, Cindy Lewis, and Brooke Fincke, head counselor at City on a Hill Charter Public School, used the “net price calculators’’ to estimate college costs. Akeasia Edwards, 18, her mother, Cindy Lewis, and Brooke Fincke, head counselor at City on a Hill Charter Public School, used the “net price calculators’’ to estimate college costs. (Kayana Szymczak for The Globe Staff)
By Mary Carmichael
Globe Staff / October 30, 2011

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Under a federal mandate that took effect Saturday, all American colleges now feature “net price calculators’’ on their websites that help students assess how much they will have to pay out of pocket for their degrees. Advocates say the tools will help students make better decisions about where they enroll and how they pay for their education. But understanding the calculators can be tricky - even with the help of financial aid counselors - as one college-bound Boston student found out.

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