In an effort to make the financial aid process at the University more transparent and accessible, MyinTuition, a new tool to estimate tuition, was introduced on the financial aid website on April 19.
Director of Financial Aid Robert Coughlin described MyinTuition as a quick method for prospective students and their families to determine how much scholarship money and financial aid they might receive if they attended the University.
“The tool asks six simple questions about a family’s finances and can be completed in about three minutes, thus simplifying the process,” Coughlin wrote in an email to The Argus. “With this information, the tool provides a range on what the family’s contribution and financial aid award would likely be (high, low, and best estimate).”
The idea to purchase the tool was a joint effort between Coughlin and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Nancy Meislahn. At the moment, MyinTuition is available on the main page of the Financial Aid Office website and will soon be listed on the Admissions website.
“We are constantly reviewing products that will simplify the financial aid process and better promote Wesleyan’s commitment to making a college education affordable to those with financial need,” Coughlin wrote. “The ease of the MyinTuition tool is the type of product that we hope will increase an awareness of our affordability. Simplifying the financial aid process through clearer communication and promoting greater awareness of Wesleyan’s affordability will continue to be areas of focus.”
According to a Wesleyan newsletter article, MyinTuition was originally developed by Economics Professor Phillip B. Levine at Wellesley College in 2013. Other schools have adopted it since then, including Williams College and the University of Virginia. The University is now one of 12 other schools who use MyinTuition.
Levine spoke about the tool’s usefulness, in particular its helpfulness after the federal government set a 2011 mandate for colleges and universities to offer a net price calculator to estimate tuition costs.
“It’s daunting and intimidating especially if you are a mom or dad and this is your first child to go off to college,” said Levine. “Financial help is often available if a child qualifies to be admitted, but the sticker shock and the process scares people away.”
Like Levine, Coughlin discussed how many potential applicants do not bother applying to schools like Wesleyan because of the seemingly high price tag and a tendency to overlook the possibility of financial aid.
“This situation is particularly true for high school applicants from low and moderate income families,” Coughlin wrote. “The MyIntuition tool provides an easy way for families to quickly understand what their real costs would be once financial aid is considered. It is the ease of using this tool that makes it so remarkable. The questions are pretty simple and unintimidating, and it only takes a few minutes to complete. This quick and friendly process can reveal to these families that a Wesleyan education is indeed affordable.”
Although the University’s financial aid website already has the Net Price Calculator—another tool that provides an estimate of a student’s potential financial aid award—MyinTuition is faster and easier. The Net Price Calculator asks more in-depth questions which take more time for families to complete.
“Thus, [the Net Price Calculator] can seem intimidating and complex to applicants and families who are looking for a quick understanding of what Wesleyan would cost them,” Coughlin wrote. “The MyinTuition tool breaks down these barriers and can enable a family to learn of Wesleyan’s affordability more quickly and easily. However, the Net Price Calculator digs a little deeper into the family’s financial circumstances to provide a more specific estimate of the costs and financial aid package. For this reason, and to meet federal requirements, the Net Price Calculator will continue to be offered to applicants and families.”
Coughlin hopes that MyinTuition will encourage more students to apply to the University while also promoting greater access and knowledge about financial aid. Tesheia van der Horst ’19 agreed with this sentiment, wishing that MyinTuition had been available when she had been applying to the University.
“I’m really excited about this new tool,” van der Horst said. “I think it will certainly help families with anticipating next year’s costs and allow them to better plan ahead.”