Sometimes the most generous schools have sky-high prices tags. Here's why they may be great values as well. : Unlike buying something in a store, when it comes to college shopping, you have to ignore the price tag. It may not even apply to you. The real price tag for any college is your net cost, that is, what you pay after financial aid and discounts are applied. The problem is that most college shoppers get spooked by that first price tag and don't apply. Net cost is what determines the best value for a college. It's also counter-intuitive.