The Net Price Calculator is a tool that you can use to estimate your "net price" to attend a particular college or university. Net price is the difference between the "sticker" price (full cost) to attend a specific college, minus any grants and scholarships for which you may be eligible. Sticker price includes direct charges (tuition and fees, room and board) and indirect costs (books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses).
(Source: CollegeBoard’s web page: http://studentnpc.collegeboard.org/what-is-a-net-price-calculator)
Net price is the key to understanding what a specific college is likely to cost, and allows you to better compare your out-of-pocket expenses from one college to another.
It can help you widen your college choices beyond those institutions that you think you can afford. It is possible that your net cost will be lower at a college with a high sticker price or higher at a college with a lower sticker price. You may find that some colleges you thought were financially out of your reach may be very affordable.
Remember, "financial fit" is just one of many factors you will want to consider in choosing a college.