How do you know if it’s affordable, somewhat-affordable, or not affordable?

  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.

Why are the college costs in DecidED different from the college website and/or my award letter?

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.