Calculating college costs made easier by new online tool

 BGSU has launched an online tool to help families plan for the cost of their child's college education.

The Student Financial Aid Estimator for New Students is designed to “remove the big question of
‘How much is it going to cost and what aid is available for me?’” said Craig Cornell, director of Student
Financial Aid.

Working in just two screens, families can get a realistic picture of the costs of a college education, including tuition and fees, room and board, and personal expenses such as books, travel and other miscellaneous costs, plus all the potential aid for which they may be eligible.

BGSU’s guaranteed, renewable scholarships, based on ACT scores and grade point averages, are there, in addition to all the federal, state and other institutional awards available, such as Bowling Green’s Michigan Success program and the Falcon Soars and Brown and Orange Access scholarships, Cornell said.

The estimator also has a link to the University’s scholarship guide, which lists 907 individual scholarships students may apply for.

“Studies show that families consistently overestimate the cost and underestimate the aid that’s available to them,” Cornell said. “The estimator gives them a place to start in terms of planning for higher education and will allow them to begin budgeting for it.”

At BGSU, 72 percent of all undergraduates receive a financial aid package of approximately $8,000, he pointed out.

Cornell and his staff have been at work on the estimator for about a year, he said, setting up the server and putting staff in place. “A big goal for us is to offer more Web-based services for students, and we think this is one of the most important ones,” he said.

While other institutions also have financial aid estimating tools, BGSU’s is unique in that it only requires two screens to complete, Cornell said. Users enter some basic personal information, their estimated family contribution (with a built-in calculator if they have not completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA), their ACT scores and grade point averages, plus any outside scholarships they may qualify for. They then receive an estimate of cost and aid.

Fred Connor, marketing director in marketing and communications, commented that the financial aid estimator “is the number two most sought-after item on university Web sites.”

The estimator was first located only on the Student Financial Aid home page and now is also linked from the BGSU home page and the Future Students landing page. The first day it went on the home page, Sept. 12, it received 216 “hits,” Cornell said, in comparison to seven the previous day. “So already we can see that people are using it.”

Students and parents visiting campus for Preview Day Oct. 29 will hear about the estimator, Connor said, and it will be publicized in other recruitment materials so families may begin using it right away.

To view the Student Financial Aid Estimator for New Students, visit