Folks strap on your seat belts because it's going to happen.
What is this game changer? Here's the short answer: a cost calculator that families will use to determine what the price of a particular college will be for a specific student.
I know that hardly sounds sexy, but it will be revolutionary. I happen to believe this and it's also the conclusion of a new white paper released by Maguire Associates, a higher-ed consulting firm. Here is the report: The Second Wave of Transparency in Higher Education.
Federal law has mandated that schools offer college cost calculators on their websites by next fall. It's what these cost calculators represent, however, that is revolutionary.
Families will be able to learn what a school will cost them long before college applications are due, says Kathy Dawley, who is president and CEO of Maguire Associates. There should be far fewer spring surprises when financial aid packages are sent to accepted students.
Even more importantly, families will be able to compare prices in this market just as they do now when they are buying a car, finding a mortgage or booking a vacation. It's a sure bet that companies will move into this space to offer the college-cost equivalent of Lending Tree, Zillow, Expedia, Orbitz and Carfax.
"This is going to be as revolutionary," Dawley suggests, "as US News & World Report's rankings."
So stay tuned. College costs are going to become transparent and what a relief that will be for stressed-out families.