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Net Price Activity

Net Price Activity icon

This activity explores the importance of using net price, the sticker price of a school minus any grants and scholarships received, to compare schools. This activity complements the online mini course, Invest in What’s Next: Life After High School, and also works well as a stand-alone activity.

Net Price Activity

Time required: 30 minutes

Grade Level: 9-12

Students evaluate two school options by calculating the schools’ net prices, then comparing the sticker prices to the net prices. Students will see how schools with different sticker prices might have similar net prices, the price they will actually pay.

Related Resources

Standards Correlations 

The content of this course can be used to address the following standards:

  • National Standards for Financial Literacy

    Standard 1: Earning Income. Income for most people is determined by the market value of their labor, paid as wages and salaries. People can increase their income and job opportunities by choosing to acquire more education, work experience, and job skills. The decision to undertake an activity that increases income or job opportunities is affected by the expected benefits and costs of such an activity. Income also is obtained from other sources such as interest, rents, capital gains, dividends, and profits.

    Benchmark 1, Grade 8. Careers are based on working at jobs in the same occupation or profession for many years. Different careers require different education and training

    Benchmark 2, Grade 8. People make many decisions over a lifetime about their education, jobs, and careers that affect their incomes and job opportunities.

    Benchmark 3, Grade 8. Getting more education and learning new job skills can increase a person’s human capital and productivity.

    Benchmark 4, Grade 8. People with less education and fewer job skills tend to earn lower incomes than people with more education and greater job skills.

    Benchmark 5, Grade 8. Investment in education and training generally has a positive rate of return in terms of the income that people earn over a lifetime.

    Benchmark 6, Grade 8. Education, training, and development of job skills have opportunity costs in the form of time, effort, and money.

    Benchmark 7, Grade 8. People often use a portion of their savings to help themselves or their family members build human capital through education or job training.

    Benchmark 1, Grade 12. People choose jobs or careers for which they are qualified based on the income they expect to earn and the benefits, such as health insurance coverage or a retirement plan, that they expect to receive.

    Benchmark 2, Grade 12. People choose jobs or careers for which they are qualified based on non-income factors, such as job satisfaction, independence, risk, family, or location.

    Benchmark 3, Grade 12. People vary in their willingness to obtain more education or training because these decisions involve incurring immediate costs to obtain possible future benefits. Discounting the future benefits of education and training may lead some people to pass up potentially high rates of return that more education and training may offer.

    Benchmark 4, Grade 12. People can make more informed education, job, or career decisions by evaluating the benefits and costs of different choices.

    Benchmark 5, Grade 12. The wage or salary paid to workers in jobs is usually determined by the labor market. Businesses are generally willing to pay more productive workers higher wages or salaries than less productive workers.

    Benchmark 7, Grade 12. Taxes are paid to federal, state, and local governments to fund government goods and services and transfer payments from government to individuals. The major types of taxes are income taxes, payroll (Social Security) taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes.

    Benchmark 8, Grade 12. People’s sources of income, amount of income, as well as the amount and type of spending affect the types and amounts of taxes paid.

    Standard 2: Buying Goods and Services. People cannot buy or make all the goods and services they want; as a result, people choose to buy some goods and services and not buy others. People can improve their economic wellbeing by making informed spending decisions, which entails collecting information, planning, and budgeting.

    Benchmark 4, Grade 8. Choosing a payment method entails weighing the costs and benefits of the different payment options.

    Benchmark 5, Grade 8. A budget includes fixed and variable expenses, as well as income, savings, and taxes.

    Benchmark 4, Grade 12. Consumers may be influenced by how the price of a good is expressed.

    Standard 3: Saving. Saving is the part of income that people choose to set aside for future uses. People save for different reasons during the course of their lives. People make different choices about how they save and how much they save. Time, interest rates, and inflation affect the value of savings.

    Benchmark 5, Grade 8. Principal is the initial amount of money upon which interest is paid.

    Benchmark 8, Grade 8. Different people save money for different reasons, including large purchases (such as higher education, autos, and homes), retirement, and unexpected events. People’s choices about how much to save and for what to save are based on their tastes and preferences.

    Benchmark 1, Grade 12. People choose between immediate spending and saving for future consumption. Some people have a tendency to be impatient, choosing immediate spending over saving for the future.

    Standard 4: Using Credit. Credit allows people to purchase goods and services that they can use today and pay for those goods and services in the future with interest. People choose among different credit options that have different costs. Lenders approve or deny applications for loans based on an evaluation of the borrower’s past credit history and expected ability to pay in the future. Higher-risk borrowers are charged higher interest rates; lower-risk borrowers are charged lower interest rates.

    Benchmark 1, Grade 8. People who apply for loans are told what the interest rate on the loan will be. An interest rate is the price of using someone else’s money expressed as an annual percentage of the loan principal.

    Benchmark 2, Grade 8. The longer the repayment period on a loan and the higher the interest rate on the loan, the larger is the total amount of interest charged on a loan.

    Benchmark 7, Grade 8. Lenders charge different interest rates based on the risk of nonpayment by borrowers. The higher the risk of nonpayment, the higher the interest rate charged. The lower the risk of nonpayment, the lower the interest rate charged.

    Benchmark 8, Grade 8. People can use credit to finance investments in education and housing. The benefits of using credit in this way are spread out over a period of time and may be large. The large costs of acquiring the education or housing are spread out over time as well. The benefits of using credit to make daily purchases of food or clothing are short-lived and do not accumulate over time.

    Benchmark 9, Grade 12. Consumers who have difficulty repaying debt can seek assistance through credit counseling services and by negotiating directly with creditors.

  • Voluntary National Standards in Economics

    Standard 1: Scarcity. Productive resources are limited. Therefore, people can not have all the goods and services they want; as a result, they must choose some things and give up others.

    Benchmark 2, Grade 8: Making good choices should involve trading off the expected value of one opportunity against the expected value of its best alternative.

    Benchmark 3, Grade 8: The choices people make have both present and future consequences.

    Benchmark 4, Grade 8: The evaluation of choices and opportunity costs is subjective; such evaluations differ across individuals and societies.

    Benchmark 1, Grade 12: Choices made by individuals, firms, or government officials are constrained by the resources to which they have access.

    Benchmark 2, Grade 12: Choices made by individuals, firms, or government officials often have long run unintended consequences that can partially or entirely offset or supplement the initial effects of the decision.

    Standard 2: Decision Making. Effective decision making requires comparing the additional costs of alternatives with the additional benefits. Many choices involve doing a little more or a little less of something: few choices are “all or nothing” decisions.

    Benchmark 1, Grade 8: To determine the best level of consumption of a product, people must compare the additional benefits with the additional costs of consuming a little more or a little less.

    Benchmark 4, Grade 8: Many people have a tendency to be impatient, choosing immediate consumption over saving for the future.

    Benchmark 6, Grade 12: Some decisions involve taking risks in that either the benefits or the costs could be uncertain. Risk taking carries a cost. When risk is present, the costs should be treated as higher than when risk is not present.

    Standard 4: Incentives. People usually respond predictably to positive and negative incentives.

    Benchmark 1, Grade 8: Responses to incentives are usually predictable because people normally pursue their self-interest or deviate from their self-interest in consistent ways.

    Benchmark 2, Grade 8: Changes in incentives usually cause people to change their behavior in predictable ways.

    Benchmark 3, Grade 8: Incentives can be monetary or non-monetary, or both.

    Benchmark 1, Grade 12: Acting as consumers, producers, workers, savers, investors, and citizens, people respond to incentives in order to allocate their scarce resources in ways that provide them the highest possible net benefits.

    Standard 12: Interest Rates. Interest rates, adjusted for inflation, rise and fall to balance the amount saved with the amount borrowed, which affects the allocation of scarce resources between present and future uses.

    Benchmark 1, Grade 8: An interest rate is a price of money that is borrowed or saved.

    Benchmark 4, Grade 12: Riskier loans command higher interest rates than safer loans because of the greater chance of default on the repayment of a risky loan.

    Standard 13: Income. Income for most people is determined by the market value of the productive resources they sell. What workers earn primarily depends on the market value of what they produce.

    Benchmark 3, Grade 8: A wage or salary is the price of labor; it usually is determined by the supply of and demand for labor.

    Benchmark 4, Grade 8: More productive workers are likely to be of greater value to employers and earn higher wages than less productive workers.

    Benchmark 5, Grade 8: Peoples’ incomes, in part, reflect choices they have made about education, training, skill development, and careers. People with few skills are more likely to be poor.

    Benchmark 5, Grade 12: Changes in demand for specific goods and services often, in the short run, affect the incomes of the workers who make those goods and services.

    Standard 16: Role of Government and Market Failure. There is an economic role for government in a market economy whenever the benefits of a government policy outweigh its costs. Governments often provide for national defense, address environmental concerns, define and protect property rights, and attempt to make markets more competitive. Most government policies also have direct or indirect effects on people’s incomes.

    Benchmark 10, Grade 12: Different tax structures affect consumers and producers differently.

    Standard 19: Inflation and Unemployment. Federal government budgetary policy and the Federal Reserve System’s monetary policy influence the overall levels of employment, output, and prices.

    Benchmark 2, Grade 12: Unemployment rates differ for people of different ages, races, and sexes. This reflects differences in work experience, education, training, and skills, as well as discrimination.

  • American School Counselor Association Standards

    Academic Development

    Standard B: Students will complete school with the academic preparation essential to choose from a wide range of substantial post-secondary options, including college.

    A:B1 Improve Learning

    A:B1.2 Learn and apply critical-thinking skills

    A:B1.4 Seek information and support from faculty, staff, family and peers

    A:B1.5 Organize and apply academic information from a variety of sources

    A:B2 Plan to Achieve Goals

    A:B2.1 Establish challenging academic goals in elementary, middle/ jr. high and high school

    A:B2.2 Use assessment results in educational planning

    A:B2.4 Apply knowledge of aptitudes and interests to goal setting

    A:B2.5 Use problem-solving and decision-making skills to assess progress toward educational goals

    A:B2.7 Identify post-secondary options consistent with interests, achievement, aptitude and abilities

    Career Development

    Standard A: Students will acquire the skills to investigate the world of work in relation to knowledge of self and to make informed career decisions.

    C:A1 Develop Career Awareness

    C:A1.1 Develop skills to locate, evaluate and interpret career information

    C:A1.3. Develop an awareness of personal abilities, skills, interests and motivations

    C:B1 Acquire Career Information

    C:B1.1 Apply decision-making skills to career planning, course selection and career transition

    C:B1.2 Identify personal skills, interests and abilities and relate them to current career choice

    C:B1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of the career-planning process

    C:B1.5 Use research and information resources to obtain career information

    C:B2 Identify Career Goals

    C:B2.1 Demonstrate awareness of the education and training needed to achieve career goals

    C:B2.2 Assess and modify their educational plan to support career

    Standard C: Students will understand the relationship between personal qualities, education, training and the world of work.

    C:C1 Acquire Knowledge to Achieve Career Goals

    C:C1.1 Understand the relationship between educational achievement and career success

    C:C1.3 Identify personal preferences and interests influencing career choice and success

    C:C1.5 Describe the effect of work on lifestyle

    C:C2 Apply Skills to Achieve Career Goals

    C:C2.1 Demonstrate how interests, abilities and achievement relate to achieving personal, social, educational and career goals

    Web-site reference

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