Exploring College Affordability

College success is underscored by college affordability. As students engage in the postsecondary planning process, Counselors and other educators should encourage them to think about college match and fit. 

Students should consider attending colleges with high institutional graduation rates that are simultaneously a worthwhile investment. This ensures that students are set up for success in the long term. Counselors and other educators should use Tool Set D with students during the college application process. The Network for College Success finds the following student- and family-facing tools to be essential when exploring the financial viability of different college choices. 

Use the Tool Set

The full Exploring College Affordability Tool Set is available for download. The download includes the four tools in this Tool Set.

PDF icon Download the Full Tool Set (PDF) v
Tool Name Type

FAFSA Ready Worksheet

A one-pager from Ladder Up for students and families to record all financial information reflected in the FAFSA. Students can also complete this with their respective Counselors or College & Career Coaches.


Financial Aid Comparison Worksheet

This one-pager from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission can be used to compare up to three colleges in terms of out-of-pocket cost after financial aid.


Dependent Student FAFSA Checklist

A checklist from Chicago Public Schools for dependent students so they can consider all of the required documents to complete the FAFSA.


Example Financial Aid Award Letters

Three sample financial aid award letters that outline various types of grants, loans, and work study typically available to Illinois students.