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.

Where do I find my award letter?

  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. 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. 
      1. You can search your email for “[School Name] + financial award.”
      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!

What can I do in DecidED without an account?

  • 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.