Finding the Best College Cost Calculator

College is a common rite of passage in the United States. After graduating high school, many students are expected to choose a major and head to college. Unfortunately, the cost of tuition is rising steadily, and it simply is not as affordable as it once was.

Aside from tuition, there is room and board to consider. You need to furnish a dorm room or apartment if you move away from home. Then, you need to add the cost of textbooks and supplies to that sum.

College costs quickly add up, and many students and parents alike struggle with figuring out the real costs. Parents wonder what they need to have in savings to send their kids to school debt-free, and students without that luxury wonder how far in debt they will be after graduation.

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Award Emblem: Top 6 Best College Savings Calculators

Trying to calculate those costs and what you will need to save now to meet the future needs is not easy. That is why you need a college tuition calculator to help you figure things out.

If you want to know how your children’s college saving account stacks up to the real costs, a college planning calculator is a great asset to have.

The tricky part is finding a college fund calculator that meets your individual needs and constraints. A college financial aid calculator that is right for someone else might not necessarily be the right one for you. It all depends on what you are looking for in a cost of college calculator.

While you are searching for the right saving for college calculator for you, you may be trying to figure out things like:

  • Whether a college debt calculator and college savings calculator are the same thing
  • If you should use a college loan repayment calculator 
  • How to use a college financial aid calculator in conjunction with a cost of college calculator 
  • What information you need to input into a college loan calculator and college planning calculator 
  • Where to find the best saving for college calculator 

Our 2017 guide to finding the best college cost calculator is meant to help clear these questions up. We break down the different types of college fund calculators, how to use a college tuition calculator, and what the best college loan payment calculator is for you.

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Advisory HQ’s List of Top 6 College Savings Calculators

The list below is sorted alphabetically (click any of the names below to go directly to the detailed review sections):

Top 6 Best College Savings Calculators | Brief Comparison & Ranking

College Savings Calculators

Type of Calculator

Ease of Use (1-5)


American Funds

College Cost




College Cost



Charles Schwab

College Cost




College Cost



Sallie Mae College Cost Calculator

College Cost



U.S. Department of Education

Financial Aid



Table: The Best College Loan Repayment Calculator | Above list is sorted alphabetically

Detailed Overview: Why You Need a College Fund Calculator

Calculating the cost of college is not easy. It is necessary, though, when mapping out your financial future. With the cost of tuition on the rise, you need to make sure that your plan matches up with the dollar amount needed when your child crosses the high school finish line and heads to college.

College Savings Calculator

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It might seem easy to look up some colleges and average the tuition, and then basing your savings plan on that amount. However, there are so many more factors that you need to take into consideration:

  • Multiple children
  • The age of your children
  • Age that children will start college
  • Average costs of college
  • Private vs. public school / in-state vs. out-of-state costs
  • Education cost inflation
  • Rate of return on investments
  • Contributions to savings account
  • Frequency of contributions
  • Room & board

You can see that many figures need to be considered when you are trying to determine the cost. These varying factors are why you need to use a college savings calculator to help.

Detailed Overview: What Should You Look for in a College Debt Calculator? 

There are countless options for a college planning calculator out there. Some are better than others, so you want to make sure that you select one that meets your needs.

When you are looking for a college debt calculator, there are several things to take into consideration:

  • User interface
  • Complexity of calculator
  • Number of inputs
  • Type of information outputted

It is important that a college loan calculator be easy to use. You want to make sure that the inputs are clearly defined and that the user interface is easy to work with.

You also want to be sure that the college savings calculator has all, if not most, of the variables mentioned in the section above. The calculation can be quite complex, so be sure that you choose a college cost calculator that has the inputs that you need.

College Loan Calculator

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Finally, be sure that you get the information that you need. Some college loan calculators will display charts and graphs, while others just generate a single number.

Determine what type of results you want generated and choose your college cost calculator accordingly.

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AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology

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Detailed Review – Top Ranking College Savings Calculator

Below, please find the detailed review of each college planning calculator on our list of best college loan repayment calculator. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these college loan repayment calculators to score so highly in our selection ranking.

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American Funds Review

American Funds offers a great college savings calculator that considers many factors.

You can compare the costs of different colleges or use national averages; consider scenarios where savings accounts, financial aid, grandparents, or scholarships cover part of the costs; and generate a personal report with projected savings and costs.

American Funds - college cost calculator

Image source: American Funds

First, you start with the first student, entering their age, age they will start college, how many years they will be in college, and what type of college they will attend.

Then, you add in inflation rates, savings accounts, ongoing contributions, and the rate of return expected. From there, you can either add another student or generate a report with this college savings calculator.

Bottom Line

This college cost calculator is a fantastic tool for parents who are looking to plan for their children’s futures. It allows you to consider many different scenarios and variables and offers a customizable approach to college saving.

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Bankrate Review

If you are looking to map out your financial future, including your child’s college fund, then Bankrate has a good college loan calculator for you to use.

The user interface of this college savings calculator is a bit hard to follow at first glance, but the variables are all clearly defined. With descriptions of all of the variables, it becomes easier to work your way through.

You will need to know your current savings, inflation, contributions, and rate of return, as well as some basic college expense estimates when using this college savings calculator.

One drawback is that you can only add four children. If you have a big family, this might not be the college savings calculator for you.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Bankrate college savings calculator is a good option. If you don’t have a large family and don’t mind taking a few minutes to get acquainted with the model, it provides a nice chart and solid calculations.

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Charles Schwab Review

The Charles Schwab college loan calculator is a good option for those with three children or less. Aside from this constraint, the college loan calculator is a solid tool.

There are two different steps with this college savings calculator. The first is entering information about the student(s), such as age, college start age, how many years in college, and type of college.

The next step involves entering your financial information, like savings, contributions, and frequency of contributions. The college cost calculator will then generate a full report showing you cost versus savings. You will also see an action plan that will show how you can meet your financial goals.

Bottom Line

Overall, this college savings calculator from Charles Schwab is a good tool to use. It is comprehensive and goes a level deeper than some other college cost calculators out there. If you have less than three children to plan for, this could be the best college savings calculator for you.

Fidelity Review

This Fidelity college planning calculator is a comprehensive tool. There are three steps that require you to input information – student information, savings information, and account type information – before results are generated.

This is a thorough college savings calculator that takes into account the age, type of college, type of school, and financial contributions, but the issue with this college loan calculator is that you can only enter one child at a time.

However, if you want a solid report and action plan, the Fidelity college savings calculator is a great choice. This tool gives you an action list that can help you get to where you need to be when your kids head to college.

Bottom Line

If you want a thorough college cost calculator, the Fidelity one won’t steer you wrong. It is very comprehensive and takes into account the costs of college, your financial contributions, and other factors. It is easy to follow and will provide you the information that you need.

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Sallie Mae College Cost Calculator Review

If you want simplicity, the Sallie Mae College Cost Calculator has it. This college tuition calculator is a simple tool to use with only three inputs.

You will enter the current annual cost of college, years until your child enters college, and the expected number of years that they will be in college. Click CALCULATE and the Sallie Mae college cost calculator will generate a number for you. This number is the estimate amount that you will need to have saved for college.

One good thing about this college loan calculator is that it provides you some flexibility, in that you control whether to just consider tuition or add room and board in as well. The drawback is that there is little other flexibility with the college loan calculator. You cannot control inflation rates or any factors like that.

Bottom Line

This college cost calculator does just that. It calculates the cost of college in a predetermined number of years. If you are looking for anything more than that, you will be disappointed.

U.S. Department of Education Review

If you are looking for a college financial aid calculator, the U.S. Department of Education offers a nice little tool.

You will be asked whether you are a U.S. citizen, which will then generate another set of questions. You will be asked to include your birth date, marital status, number of people in the household, gross annual income, and your state of residence.  The nice thing is that all of these variables are well-defined and easy to understand.

This college financial aid calculator then switches to calculate average college costs. The financial aid estimate will be calculated there, and you can enter any other scholarships or grants that you receive. The college financial aid calculator also takes into account student loans and additional resources like savings accounts.

You won’t get any fancy outputs, just the college cost and total aid available. The college financial aid calculator will tell you what your expected financial contribution is based on the information provided.

Bottom Line

Overall, if you need a college financial aid calculator, this is a good option. The great thing about this college savings calculator is that it takes into account financial aid, loans, and grants to determine what your expected financial contribution would be for college. This is a good all-encompassing tool.

Conclusion – Top 6 Best College Cost Calculators

When you are planning your financial future, the cost of sending you child to college might come into play. While some parents leave this up to their child entirely, others take care to put money aside.

However, knowing what you need to stash away and when to begin requires knowing how much you need to save. That is why a cost of college calculator is a great asset. With a tool like this, you can determine how much money you will need to save.

It isn’t quite as simple as that, though. You need to map out a course to reaching this number, and that can be very tricky. Using a college financial aid calculator is one way to map out your plan.

There are so many different college debt calculators out there, and each has a unique set of features. Some account for multiple children, while others do not. Some are complex, while other college loan calculators provide only what you need to know.

It is important to look at the following features when you are choosing a saving for college calculator:

  • User interface
  • Complexity of calculator
  • Number of inputs
  • Type of information outputted

Always check out a few options of college loan calculators before you make your final decision. Be sure that the college cost calculator that you choose has the features that you need.

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