All Penn AHEAD Papers

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Working Paper

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Access and Completion in Higher Education


college costs, financial aid, public policy, descriptive analyses

Copyright/Permission Statement

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


This study uses web sphere analysis to examine the usability and usefulness of information that selected four-year colleges and universities are providing about the costs of attendance via their Net Price Calculators (NPCs) and cost-related websites. The analyses show that some colleges and universities are not only failing to comply with federal NPC mandates but also ignoring their ethical responsibility, as noted by the National Association of College Admission Counseling, “to provide complete, factual, and readily accessible information that will allow students and their counselors to make informed college comparisons and choices.”

Funder Acknowledgment

This research was supported by a grant from Lumina Foundation. Findings and opinions are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of the funder.


This brief draws from a research paper that was presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, Tampa, Florida, November 16, 2018. The full research paper is in the final stages of review at Educational Policy. The authors are grateful to Jillian Johnston and Dorothy Villareal for the assistance they provided with a first round of data collection.



Date Posted: 27 March 2019