To avoid any missteps or confusion, families should work with a guidance counselor or teacher to fill out the calculator for any schools they are interested in, she says.
Dennison also suggest students take a "consumer approach" by using other tools, such as the Department of Education's FAFSA4caster, comparing net price estimates from multiple colleges and then following-up with each school's financial aid office, says.
"It's not just taking one net price calculator and the result and then walking away," she says. "You never go in and buy the first car you test drive. You usually test drive others, or you go to different dealerships, or you get different reviews. It's not just taking one thing at face value. Exploration is the key."
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