Blog | 4 Min Read

A Future-Focused Look At Your College Investment

Family reviewing college requirements and investment on laptop

When it comes to college planning, you should know exactly what you’ll pay — and see exactly what you’ll be getting in return for your investment

At College Aid Pro™, we believe families deserve to know the true cost of their investment. More importantly, we believe you should know exactly what your return on education will be, so you can make informed financial decisions. 

What will each school actually cost us?

What will our monthly loan payments really be?

What are the average first year salaries of graduates?

Today, we’re going to reveal how you can get fast and reliable answers to each of these questions. 

As you know, it’s our mission to provide end-to-end solutions that help you plan for college with confidence. In today’s post (and in the video above), we’re focusing on showing the real-life “outcomes” of attending each university and college on your list.

In short, those outcomes are A) the expected salary you’ll earn in your first, fifth, and tenth year after graduation, and B) your monthly student loan payments. We’ll show you what those numbers look like today — rather than four or five years from now. 

Get Granular With Advanced Search 

Let’s face it: all of these colleges and universities do an amazing job at marketing. Amid all the pomp and circumstance, however, they can make it awfully difficult to answer the one question on every family’s mind: are the long-term benefits of attending actually worth the financial cost?

The schools themselves may not provide such clear answers, and we’re here to fix that 

At College Aid Pro™, we’ll help you understand what schools think you can afford (by calculating your EFC) — and we’ll give you the tools to build a tangible budget (a process we call College Pre-Approval). More than anything, however, we’re here to help you shop smarter for schools and get a glimpse of the future.

With our new Advanced Search Function, you can find the schools that fit you best. 

Our new, state-of-the-art tool goes beyond the sticker price and looks at the actual first year, net-cost basis of colleges and universities.

So after taking into account all of the financial aid, grants, and scholarships, you’ll know exactly what you’ll pay (for the first year and for all four years). 

Here’s how specific the Advanced Search tool can get:

  • Search By Distance: Select schools up to 100, 200, 500 or over 1,000 miles away. If distance isn’t a dealbreaker, you can keep the search as broad as possible. 
  • Search by State: Want to get more specific? Select the individual state you want to focus on.
  • Search By Major: Choose from 40+ majors to help refine your search.
  • Search by Ranking: Want to search by Forbes Ranking? Narrow down the top undergraduate institutions by Top 10, Top 50, Top 100 or a general search within all 650 schools ranked by Forbes. 
  • Search By Funding Gap: Search for schools within $30,000, $50,000, or $100,000 of your predetermined budget. 

Through these advanced search options, you’ll quickly develop a refined shortlist of schools. Within that list, however, you can get even more granular by applying additional filters. 

You can sort your results according to: 

  • Distance
  • Enrollment
  • Forbes Ranking
  • Cost of Attendance
  • Net Cost
  • Total Need Met %
  • Merit Scholarship
  • 4 Year Estimated Net Cost
  • Funding Gap

It’s all part of our laser-guided approach to college planning.

Outcomes: The Newest Tool At CAP

Now that we have a shortlist, let’s search within it according to Merit Scholarship. For the sake of example, we’ll explore Beloit College.

Though it seems to be a compelling option on the surface, what else can we learn about Beloit that isn’t so obvious at first glance? And what kind of salary can we expect to earn one, five, or ten years after graduation? 

Click on the Outcomes tab to investigate. As the latest tool at College Aid Pro™, Outcomes helps you understand the average income of graduated students on a one, five, and ten-year basis. This information is based on the specific degree you’re searching for — not just general graduate salaries at a particular university. 

Furthermore, all of the attributed percentiles and averages are based on actual surveys taken by each college’s alumni. 

These deep insights help answer a crucial question: are the outcomes that much better from attending one college over another? That will come in handy when comparing the numbers of a prestigious university and a small liberal arts college.

Click on the Affordability Profile to learn more. Beloit College is ranked as a “Great” fit, because the total debt accrued will be under $27,000. Those loans will be supplied by Federal Direct Student Loans — a great solution that helps families meet their education goals without being overly strained by debt. 

FYI: Our general rule of thumb is to keep your total loans below your expected first year salary. In the event that your loans exceed that number, we’ll caution you and encourage you to think carefully about the value of that particular college versus your larger expectations for the future.  

The Outcomes Report

For the sake of example, let’s say we find Beloit College a viable option and add it to our shortlist. 

On this shortlist, our list of schools features a side-by-side comparison of both our net cost analysis and our sticker price (i.e. the Cost of Attendance or COA). 

With this information, we can then click on the Reports tab and look at the Borrowing Analysis that shows: 

  • Your funding gap
  • Your pre-approval amount
  • Your net cost (on a four-year basis)
  • Your expected loans on a 10 or 25-year payment schedule

Conversely, when you click on the Outcomes tab, you’ll see:

  • Your funding gap
  • Your first year salary
  • Your monthly take home pay
  • Your monthly loan payment
  • Your affordability payment

Between these two tabs, you can see the full picture of your college investment.

In our example search, Beloit College yielded a Funding Gap of $21,945 with a first year salary of $45,930 and a monthly payment of $244.

Let’s compare that with another school on our list, Penn State University Park, which has a funding gap nearly five times higher at $103,824.

The expected one year salary after graduating Penn State is marginally higher at $46,290, but as for the monthly loan payment? As with the funding gap, it’s also nearly five times higher than Beloit’s at a whopping $1,153/month. 

Predictably, our affordability profile ranks Beloit College as “Great” versus the “Caution” warning on Penn State.

Getting Started

Ultimately, you’ll make the most informed decision for your family. While we’re not here to tell you what to do, we are here to help you along the way.

At College Aid Pro™, our tools are designed to take the guesswork out of college planning. 

More importantly, they’re optimized to help you see into the future and receive practical answers about what your college investment will look like today, tomorrow, and for years to come.