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Stressing Over Where to Go to College?

April 08, 2018

Stressed over the college decision? Take a walk-through of Edmit's college comparsion tool to get more informed on the colleges you're considering.

 

Great newsyour college acceptance letters have arrived! Tough newsnow you have to actually decide where you’ll go to college. Whether you’re focused on academics or athletics, the cost of college or career prep, you want to pick the right school for you. And if you’re having trouble deciding where to go to college, Edmit can help!

 

If you haven’t yet tested out Edmit’s college comparison tool, let’s go for a quick walk-through.

 

Step 1: Create Your Edmit Account

 

 

Everything starts with your Edmit account and profile. In your profile, you’ll be asked to enter your GPA, SAT/ACT/PSAT scores, your home zip code, and your high school. This information enables Edmit to make informed predictions regarding both financial aid packages and potential post-degree outcomes.

Once you’re registered, you’ll be able to compare colleges and universities side by side to get a more accurate snapshot of your options.

 

The Edmit comparison tool is free to use, and you can save your results to return to later.

 

For our sample comparison here, our hypothetical student is from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the local public high school with a 3.7 GPA and an 1180 SAT score.

 

Step 2: Add Your Colleges and Get Your Edstimate

 

Start your list. Start with the Search Colleges field at the top right of your screen, then select your school from the dropdown menu. For our first sample, we’ll look at results for Gettsyburg College.

 

 

 

You’ll be routed to a results page with a snapshot of your selected school.

 Gettysburg College Overview 1

Gettysburg College Overview 2
Gettysburg College Overview 3

 Gettysburg College Overview 4

The snapshot covers the college’s sticker price, the Edstimate™ projection covering your likely scholarship and financial aid package, and your estimated net price (including both tuition and fees). You can then read on for more detail on how Edmit got to these figures, including a breakdown of the cost of attendance and historical financial aid data. There’s also a section for estimated Debt & Earnings for your selected college (covering student loan debt and average salaries after graduation), so you can get a sense of the potential return on investment for a degree from that school.

 

The above scenario shows the likely cost of attendance, financial aid, and outcomes for our hypothetical student if she attends Gettysburg College.

 

Add every school you’ve been accepted to (or, if you’re earlier in the process, those colleges you’re thinking of applying to). Each college or university will be automatically saved to your account.

 

Step 3: Compare Colleges

 

Once you’ve entered all your colleges, you can see a quick list comparing the published tuition, an Edstimate™ for each school, your actual financial aid award (if you’ve uploaded your financial aid letter), and respective net prices.

 

For our test case here, our potential student has been accepted at a mix of public and private colleges around the Mid-Atlantic region: American University, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Gettysburg College, Lycoming College, and Rutgers UniversityNew Brunswick.

 

My Colleges

 After you’ve added your colleges, click on the My Reports tab at the top left of your screen to see a more in-depth analysis and comparison of your potential schools.

Add the colleges you want in the report to the left of the screen:

Colleges to the Left of the Screen

 You’ll want to add at least two colleges to run a comparison (there is a maximum of five in a report).

 

You'll Need to Add Two

 Once you’ve added all your schools, check out your report:

 

Your resulting report will have five sections: Summary, Edstimate™, Cost of Attendance, Affordability, and Earnings. Click each to get an in-depth study of your selected schools.

 

Section Headers

The Summary section gives you a high level, holistic view of your schools based on overall value:

Summary
 

Value Index For our sample student, the Edmit comparison tool shows that Rutgers University offers the overall best relative value of the five colleges compared here, and American University has the lowest relative value. The overall relative value is based on reported earnings and career trajectories as well as your estimated cost.

 

Next, we’ll get an Edstimate™ for our five sample schools. An Edstimate™ takes a look at which school(s) could offer the most attractive net price, based on historical financial aid data and the student’s profile:

 

Edstimate 1

 Edstimate 2

Edstimate 3

The initial Edstimate™ summary provides context for the subsequent graphs that follow. Based on the historical data of the colleges we entered and our sample student’s personal profile (covering their test scores, high school, and zip code), the Edmit tool projects that our student has the strongest chance of successfully receiving financial aid from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Gettysburg College, and Lycoming College.

 

For the next step, we’ll compare the cost of attendance across the five schools. Edmit factors in tuition and fees, books and supplies, and living expenses when determining a college’s cost.

Cost of Attendance 1 Cost of Attendance 2

For the five schools we’re comparing, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania is the least expensive for both sticker price and net price (factoring in financial aid and the projected Edstimate™). While Gettysburg College has the most expensive sticker price of the five schools we entered, American University is projected to have the most expensive net price (once financial aid and the Edstimate™ is factored in).
 

Let’s move beyond net price, however, and take a deeper dive into Edmit’s Affordability projections—specifically, what’s most affordable for you, based on your your family’s specific income and savings for college.

 

If you’ve bought a house or begun retirement savings, you’ll know there are benchmarks—usually based on an individual’s income—for what is reasonable and responsible to spend on those investments. So what is the equivalent number for college?

Edmit’s affordability benchmark is designed to help with that. The benchmark represents the number, based on your personal financial situation as well as the schools you are considering, that you should expect to pay for college. It includes assumptions about:

  • Household savings (that parents will save a certain share of their income over a period of time to contribute to the student’s college costs, along with any money saved to date for college)
  • Money that the student earns while working during college
  • Loan repayment (that the student pays a share of their post-graduation income to service student loans)

Our benchmark is informed in part by research and analysis from the Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest private foundation focused on increasing Americans’ success in higher education. Read more about Lumina’s Affordability Benchmark, developed as a starting point for education policy makers.


In this case, we used two scenarios with our five sample colleges to demonstrate how the Edmit comparison tool works in terms of affordability—one with the default setting ($0 household income/$0 college savings), and one with $100,000 in household income and $52,000 saved for college (aka the current average).


Affordability 1

 

Affordability 2 

In both scenarios, Bloomsburg University came out as the most affordable, while American University was the least affordable. But there were variations in the benchmark amount (e.g., what individuals should expect to pay for college based on their family circumstances): roughly $91,000 for the default household, and $193,000 for the average income and savings household.

 

To see which colleges will be most affordable for you personally, as well as learn your own financing benchmarks, select “Affordability” in your report, enter your own household income and current college savings figures, then click “Recalculate”.

 

Of course, the value of college is more than just net priceyou may also be interested in the earning potential of a degree from a particular school. So let’s take a look at earnings.

 

The resulting graphs show mid-career and annual earnings for a Computer Science major at each school. You can test a variety of majors to see different career trajectories and earnings potential by field of study, or can see general results if you’re undecided.

Earnings 1 Earnings 2

Earnings 3

Based on our inputs, the Edmit tool indicates Rutgers University has the strongest outcomes of the five schools in this comparison for highest earnings right after graduation, while Gettysburg College has the strongest earning potential for this sample student over the course of a career.

 

If you still have questions after you’ve run your reportor have anxiety about submitting a financial aid award appeal letterdon’t worry! Our experts are ready to help. Upgrade to Edmit Plus ($99/year subscription) to get a personal consultation with the Edmit team, support with three financial aid appeals, and unlimited advanced reports (including any new upgrades). You can also subscribe to our newsletter for the latest tips and advice on paying for college.

 

Choosing a college can be stressful, but the more informed you are, the more confident you’ll be. We hope Edmit can help you find your best fit college!