FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions from the list of categories below

Uploading Award Letters

If our robots are unable to read your letter (probably because they haven’t seen one like it before) we will send it to a human to do the work for you instead. Your letter should be reviewed and delivered to you within a few hours if you uploaded it Monday through Friday during business hours, or early on Monday morning if it is the weekend.

  1. Colleges will send out your award letters in one of three ways, so keep a lookout for them. DecidED works best with award letter images from your College Portal or Email because the tool can only read image files (JPEG, PNG.).
    1. COLLEGE PORTAL
      1. You can find your financial aid award by logging onto the college’s online portal. You will need to do this for each college you are expecting to receive an award letter from. 
    2. YOUR EMAIL
      1. You can search your email for “[School Name] + financial award.”
    3. YOUR MAILBOX
      1. You may also get a paper copy of your award in the mail, so be sure to check. You can take pictures of your paper award letters and submit them to DecidED from your phone..

Still having trouble finding your award? Checkout our guide on Finding your financial aid award!

College Costs

DecidED tries to provide the most up to date college cost information we can, but the costs included on your award letter are likely more accurate. When we scan your award letter, we only scan for college awards, not costs, because of how inconsistently colleges may present those costs from letter to letter. For costs, we use data collected from colleges through surveys that often lag behind the most up to date cost numbers on college websites. Additionally, all cost numbers presented on the college website are estimates that can change. Always refer to your letter for the most up to date cost, and don’t hesitate to reach out to DecidED with help if you have a question about your letter.

  1. After you upload your award letters, you may see a mixture of schools that are “Affordable,” “Somewhat Affordable,” or “Not Affordable” in your DecidED account. Each rating is calculated uniquely for you using the award letter information and financial aid documents you send us. Note that only Pell-eligible students see Affordability labels in DecidED. We use the award letters you upload to DecidED to confirm you are a Pell Eligible student. Read below for definitions of each affordability level: 
    1. Affordable colleges:
      • We define a college is affordable if we believe that even though your grants and/or scholarships may not fully cover all your college costs, filling that gap will still be manageable. At these schools you can afford to pay your tuition, housing, and personal expenses with a healthy mix of work, loans, and/or family contributions.
        • Taking no more then $5,500 in Federal Loans and 
        • working 0-10 hours a week while in school 
    2. Somewhat Affordable colleges:
      • There are some schools that could still be an option for you, but in order to afford them you would need to stretch your work, loans, and family contribution to potentially unsafe amounts. We believe that makes them only somewhat affordable if in order to pay for them you will likely need to break one of our recommendations by:
        • Taking out more then $5,500 in loans
        • and/or working 15-20 hours a week while in school
    3. Not Affordable colleges: 
      • We define a college “Not Affordable” for you if attending that school will put you in a position where you are going to struggle to cover your college bill even if you are working, have support from family, and are taking out federal and/or private loans. In order to pay for school you might be forced to take actions we don’t recommend, such as:
        • Taking out a risky amount in loans, potentially requiring higher interest Parent PLUS or Private loans 
        • and/or working 20+ hours a week.

App Support

DecidED doesn’t require a saved password. You will get a new login code every time you go to access your account by entering your email or cell phone number on the sign in screen.

  1. Colleges will send out your award letters in one of three ways, so keep a lookout for them. DecidED works best with award letter images from your College Portal or Email because the tool can only read image files (JPEG, PNG.).
    1. COLLEGE PORTAL
      1. You can find your financial aid award by logging onto the college’s online portal. You will need to do this for each college you are expecting to receive an award letter from. 
    2. YOUR EMAIL
      1. You can search your email for “[School Name] + financial award.”
    3. YOUR MAILBOX
      1. You may also get a paper copy of your award in the mail, so be sure to check. You can take pictures of your paper award letters and submit them to DecidED from your phone..

Still having trouble finding your award? Checkout our guide on Finding your financial aid award!

We have put a lot of hard work into Decided, but are aware that things still break from time to time. If you are experiencing issues with the site, feel free to open a chat with us by clicking on the chat window in the lower right hand corner of the site, or email us at help@decided.org.

  • Even without a DecidED account, you can take advantage of all of the information in our Guides! Learn more about important topics like financial aid verification, writing an appeal, understanding your college bill and life budget, scholarships, and more!
  • We recommend creating a free DecidED account so you can access personalized insights to inform your college decision, including which colleges are going to be most affordable for your budget as well as other considerations such as the college’s graduation rate, the campus diversity, and the projected future earnings.

Adding a College

You can delete colleges from your account by scrolling to the bottom of the screen and clicking on the Delete School button. DecidED will ask you, “Are you sure you want to delete this school?” 

  • If you click on Cancel, it will cancel the deletion and return you to your dashboard.
  • If you click on Delete, the school will be deleted from your account. 
  • If you delete a school by accident, you can search for the school and add it back to your profile. If you have already added an award letter for that school you won’t lose that information and will see it again when you add the school back in.

You can add up to 50 four-year institutions to compare costs on DecidED.

  • DecidED includes almost 2,000 four-year public, private, and for-profit institutions across the United States that participate in the Title IV Federal Policy. Unfortunately, DecidED does not currently include two-year colleges or technical schools. 
  • DecidED is not currently able to search by abbreviations such as “UC” or “CSU”. Make sure you’re entering complete words in your search
  • It’s possible that the school you are looking for has a very similar name to a different school in another state. Make sure the school you select is in the correct location.

Student Account Profile

You can delete colleges from your account by scrolling to the bottom of the screen and clicking on the Delete School button. DecidED will ask you, “Are you sure you want to delete this school?” 

  • If you click on Cancel, it will cancel the deletion and return you to your dashboard.
  • If you click on Delete, the school will be deleted from your account. 
  • If you delete a school by accident, you can search for the school and add it back to your profile. If you have already added an award letter for that school you won’t lose that information and will see it again when you add the school back in.
  • You can edit your profile and account information at any time. Go to the top right corner of your student dashboard and click on the square with your initials. Select  “edit” for the profile section you wish to update to change account Info like your name, phone number, email, GPA, SAT/ACT, Zip Code, and Ethnicity. You can also add or remove Advisor access to your account by editing the Program Code.
  • You can delete colleges from your account by scrolling to the bottom of the screen and clicking on Delete School. DecidED will ask you, “Are you sure you want to delete this school?” 
    • If you click on Cancel, it will cancel the deletion and return you to your dashboard. 
    • If you click on Delete, the school will be deleted from your account. 
    • If you delete a school by accident, you can search for the school and add it back to your profile. If you have already added an award letter for that school you won’t lose that information and will see it again when you add the school back in.
  • If you want to delete your DecidED account completely, please email us at help@decided.org

Entering a Group Code from an advisor will link a student’s account to their advisor’s DecidED account. Advisors who want to follow their student’s college choices and award letter results can add students to their organization by sending them an email invitation or by giving students a group code. It is up to the student if they want to share that information with their advisor. When a student adds an advisor’s Group Code to their profile, their advisor will see all the same information for each school that the student sees in their dashboard – college costs, affordability, aid received, and college fit information like graduation rate, diversity, and campus type.

DecidED is different from other college search tools out there because we know that individual factors like your ethnicity play a role in your college outcomes. How do we know this? The data tells us so! When you include your ethnicity in your DecidED profile, DecidED is able to give you information about the graduation rate and diversity on campus for the colleges that you add. For example, if you select “Black or African American” on the profile dropdown menu, you’ll see the graduation rate specifically for Black or African American students for each college that you add to your account.

DecidED doesn’t require a saved password. You will get a new login code every time you go to access your account by entering your email or cell phone number on the sign in screen.

You can update and edit your profile within your DecidED account. First, you need to sign in to your account. Then go to the top right corner of your student dashboard and click on the square with your initials.

  • Select  “edit” for the section you wish to update. 
  • You can update account information such as your name, phone number, email, and organizations you are sharing with. 
  • You can also update profile informations such as your GPA, SAT/ACT, zip code, and ethnicity.
  • Each DecidED account is connected to both an email address. Since you cannot create a duplicate account with the same email address, you should first check if you already have an account by trying to log in on the sign in screen.
  • If you get a message that says “wrong user name or password”, and then if you don’t receive an email from us after submitting a forgotten password request, then you will need to create a new account.

Advisor Dashboard Account

We know that lesson plans can be an incredibly helpful tool so we are working on it! Stay tuned for updates about our curriculum in 2022!

Advisors cannot edit a student’s account.

You can only see your student’s DecidED information if the student opts in by accepting your email invitation or adding your group code to their DecidED account. From there, you can only view the same information that your students can see regarding their college searches, award letter analysis, and affordability. You can also download reports about student results and download their award letters.

Entering a Group Code from an advisor will link a student’s account to their advisor’s DecidED account. Advisors who want to follow their student’s college choices and award letter results can add students to their organization by sending them an email invitation or by giving students a group code. It is up to the student if they want to share that information with their advisor. When a student adds an advisor’s Group Code to their profile, their advisor will see all the same information for each school that the student sees in their dashboard – college costs, affordability, aid received, and college fit information like graduation rate, diversity, and campus type.

Using DecidED

You can delete colleges from your account by scrolling to the bottom of the screen and clicking on the Delete School button. DecidED will ask you, “Are you sure you want to delete this school?” 

  • If you click on Cancel, it will cancel the deletion and return you to your dashboard.
  • If you click on Delete, the school will be deleted from your account. 
  • If you delete a school by accident, you can search for the school and add it back to your profile. If you have already added an award letter for that school you won’t lose that information and will see it again when you add the school back in.

Entering a Group Code from an advisor will link a student’s account to their advisor’s DecidED account. Advisors who want to follow their student’s college choices and award letter results can add students to their organization by sending them an email invitation or by giving students a group code. It is up to the student if they want to share that information with their advisor. When a student adds an advisor’s Group Code to their profile, their advisor will see all the same information for each school that the student sees in their dashboard – college costs, affordability, aid received, and college fit information like graduation rate, diversity, and campus type.

  • Even without a DecidED account, you can take advantage of all of the information in our Guides! Learn more about important topics like financial aid verification, writing an appeal, understanding your college bill and life budget, scholarships, and more!
  • We recommend creating a free DecidED account so you can access personalized insights to inform your college decision, including which colleges are going to be most affordable for your budget as well as other considerations such as the college’s graduation rate, the campus diversity, and the projected future earnings.

Didn’t find an answer? Get in touch!