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Tests and the Rest: College Admissions Industry Podcast

Aug 23, 2019

When is a price not a price? When the stated retail cost of a year at any college diverges dramatically from what students actually cost, you can’t effectively factor price into your initial college search. Amy and Mike invited educational expert Mark Salisbury to explain the importance of and path to college price transparency.

 What are five things you will learn in this episode?

  1. Why isn’t a college’s “sticker price” enough to understand how much a student actually pays?
  2. Why do undergraduate financial offers arrive too late to inform college choice? 
  3. How can a database of actual college prices facilitate more informed school choices?
  4. How effective are standard Net Price Calculators?
  5. In what ways does price transparency benefit colleges?


Dr. Mark Salisbury has spent 25 years in higher education. His first decade was as a soccer coach and admissions counselor. He then returned to school and earned a PhD in higher education at the University of Iowa, studying college student access and success as a researcher on the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education and a member of the Teagle Scholars. Since then, he has published both academic research and more mainstream writing on higher ed, including commentaries for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, interviews with NPR, and the blog, Delicious Ambiguity.  From 2010 to 2018, he was an Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Institutional Research and Assessment at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. 

In addition, Mark has done consulting work for colleges and universities over the past decade on how to use data to improve in areas like recruiting, financial aid leveraging, admissions, student retention, graduation, and post-college outcomes. He started the TuitionFit project in the summer of 2018 and continues to be an enthusiastic advocate for the benefits of price transparency for both students and colleges.

Find Mark at


Mark’s TEDx Talk

The trouble with Net Price Calculators


Tests and the Rest is THE college admissions industry podcast. Explore all of our episodes on the show page.