We know that many students choose not to use a net price calculator for many reasons – not being able to find and not knowing what an NPC is rise to the top of the list. But we also know that many students start, but don’t finish the process - burning out somewhere between the first question and, depending on which NPC they are using, 20 minutes later on the last question for those NPCs that take forever to complete. Sometimes it is just too much work.
We designed Meadow with the idea that a good NPC should not feel like a lot of work at all. It should be easy for the financial aid staff to get live, not need any IT resources and require minimal maintenance. But most importantly, it should not be work for the students. If we want them to use it, we have to make it easy.
Navigating the college application process is difficult for anyone, but exponentially more so for students who might be the first in their family to go to college (30%+ of the population) and/or students who may not speak English as the primary language in their home (10%+). So the words we use matter.
Meadow Price, our net price calculator, has always had two features that stand out and support students who might need it. From the start it has been available in English and Spanish and included an embedded Answer Guide. And we are excited to answer that our guide got a, as the kids say, glow up!
We recently updated the Answer Guide to support students in answering questions that have changed based on FAFSA Simplification (e.g. how to value a farm asset) as well as helping them even understand what is different (e.g what is the difference between EFC and SAI?). With all the changes out there along with the new FAFSA, our goal is to actually make it feel simpler.
But we didn’t stop there. We collaborated with the terrific team at Northern Arizona University to develop a bilingual glossary with the intention of normalizing that not everyone knows every word. And while we could have used a dictionary and gotten this done a lot faster, we wrote our own definitions - focusing on the easiest way to explain something. For example:
Award: The amount of financial aid (money) a university will give you to support paying for school. Some of this money may need to be paid back. Some of it also comes with requirements like grades or attendance.
Credit Hour: A unit used to measure the amount of time spent in a college or university course. This may be the number of classes you are planning to take.
Fees: Money that you pay to a college for things like course materials, equipment, activities, the gym etc. Ask your college for a list of their fees.
Savings: Money that is set aside or saved for future use or emergencies.
Everything we do is intended to be student-friendly and student first. The answer guide and glossary are just two of the ways we do it.