College costs and affordability

  • Updated
  • Affordability pie graph 
    • Before you  upload your award letters, DecidED can give you an estimated cost for each college broken down by category. If you enter your zip code in your DecidED profile, we will specify if those costs are in state or out of state, depending on where you live. If you choose not to share your zip code, we will show the out of state estimated costs.
    • The total estimated costs are broken down by two categories:
      • College Bill - that’s all the money you will pay directly to the school, including housing and meals if you choose to live on campus. 
      • Life Budget - which is all money you might need for things like textbooks, travel expenses and basic living expenses like the occasional movie or excursion. Read more about your College Bill and Life Budget in our DecidED Guides. 
    • Once you upload your award letter, we break down the costs inside of an affordability chart. Our chart shows how much of your budget is already covered by free financial aid and how much money you still need to come up with to cover your costs and expenses.
    • We also give you our estimate of whether or not we think this college is affordable, based on information we see in your financial aid letter. Learn more about how DecidED determines whether a college is affordable, semi-affordable, or not affordable.
  • How will I pay for this?
    • DecidED clearly states how much money you still need to come up with to attend your first year of college, after deducting all of your free financial aid from the total cost. 
    • We break that number down between money you need to pay directly to the college (College Bill) vs. money you will need as living expenses (Life Budget). 
    • We also give you some recommendations regarding loans and part time work so that you can start thinking about how you can cover outstanding costs.  
  • First Year Breakdown
    • To help you understand how we landed on that big number for the total estimated cost, we break down each subcategory in your college budget: Tuition and Fees, Housing and Meals, Textbooks and Supplies, Transportation, and Personal Expenses.
    • Costs are estimated costs. DecidED pulls our cost information from public sources and then verifies it against the letters we receive. The public sources often reflect costs from the previous academic year. We try to update those costs as soon as we receive verifiable updated costs from an institution.

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