Types of Student Loan and College Cost Calculators
Find Out What it Will Be Costing You First
Almost every college loan provider and lender website has a “college loan calculator.” These cool tools are fun to play around with, but let’s find out how you can leverage that fun factor:
- What exactly does a college loan calculator show you?
- What types of financial information can you retrieve?
- Which are the best tools for calculating your college costs?
You will find a confusing array of different types of calculators each designed to help you plan your own college education or that of your children. The typical types of calculators include: tuition calculators, student loan calculators and college savings calculators and vary in style from basic widget to complex matrix. Used in combination with savvy financial aid strategies, many college cost calculators can also be effective financial planning tools.
College Tuition Calculators
College tuition calculators show you what your tuition or that of your child’s will be in a particular year in the future. Utilities like these are designed to return estimated college cost calculations based on a combination of data, including historical and trend data.
Over the years statistics have been diligently gathered and when plugged into logical calculations are able to show the average increases in tuition rates each year. They may even be “smart” enough to estimate your textbook costs. Use these figures as a rough estimate of a total four-year cost of tuition and attendance.
Arm yourself with advance knowledge of your tuition bottom line and you empower yourself to make better financial choices when the time comes.
- Need a quick way to look up a current U.S. college tuition figure? Check out the College Cost Finder at CNNMoney.com. Plug this figure into college savings and student loan calculators for a more detailed breakdown of costs and final debt load.
Student Loan Calculators
Okay, so you know how much your college tuition or your child’s may cost 5 or 15 years down the road, but that’s not the real cost of the education, is it? If you are like most Americans you’ll need to take out at least one or two college loans, among them Federal and private. Student loans accrue interest and come packaged with associated fees. We can call these borrowing costs.
When you take the cost of college tuition and add to it the costs of borrowing money, this intersection of data is where you realize a more accurate total expense for a college education.
- The CNN Money student loan calculator gives you a current perspective of your college loan. If you are about to begin loan repayment or are already in the throes of monthly payments, this is the best tool for you. Plug in your total loan amount you received from your lender along with the student loan interest rate. Then simply adjust your monthly payment figures to calculate how long it could take you to pay off your student loans. This tool shows you how you can save money on loan interest and extra payments when you increase your monthly student loan payments by just a little bit.
- NextStudent’s Student Loan Repayment Calculator is a user-friendly way to quickly figure monthly student loan payments based on very simple and easily accessible figures.
- College Board’s College Cost Calculator combines the cost of a particular college tuition today, the average tuition inflation rate and your expected savings to calculate a final college cost. Use this figure to estimate how much you may need to borrow in student loans to pay for the college of your choice now or in the future.
College Savings Calculators
College savings calculators give you the additional flexibility to figure how much you could potentially save prior to college and how that savings could impact the amount you would finally need to borrow.
- FinAid’s Savings Plan Designer and Savings Growth Projector, help you discover how to setup all your college savings accounts so that your weekly or monthly contributions are on schedule with your projected college expenses.
- CNNMoney.com provides a savings calculator that also allows you to evaluate your college savings requirements based on current tuition costs and savings you already have allocated in a 529 account and/or the Coverdell ESA, or any other type of savings. The tool is flexible enough that if you don’t know exactly how much a tuition cost will be you may instead simply choose from three average figures for private, public, or “ivy league” tuitions and just as quickly turn your figures into ballpark estimates. Visualize your savings needs in graph format and easily pinpoint where you may need to tweak your financial savings plan in order to fund that four-year college degree.
- The Federal Student Aid Budget Calculator offers you a side-by-side breakdown of your family’s monthly budget “expenses” calculated against the loans, scholarships and various “income” that could figure positively toward college tuition. The final calculation is an expenses-minus-income operation.
Other Sources for College Cost Estimators
Besides the few tools we’ve highlighted, you will also find similar utilities on your state student loan website, through your personal bank, or on almost any student loan provider’s website. You will find customized calculators that allow you to figure various costs associated with a particular lender’s student loan interest rates and costs, and a few other types of calculators such as loan consolidation tools.