You choose a group of colleges or universities and you decide what assumptions you’d like to make about proposed or existing college affordability policies…

Use the drop down menus that appear to the right of the table described above to select the school year, state, type of institution, and the student’s living status.

Note that we do not have sufficient data to produce an estimate for every combination of that can be selected.  If you select a combination where we have insufficient data an error message will appear at the top of the page stating that we have or will dispatch a student to see if you can obtain the needed data.  Unfortunately though you will not be notified of any progress that the graduate student(s) may or may not be making.  Sorry ’bout that.  Generally speaking though we have fairly complete data up through the 2013-2014 academic year.

Use the sliders to set your assumptions for the contributions made by the student and the student’s family.

The family income exclusion slider determines the discretionary income level for a family based on the poverty guideline. On the slider shown to the right, the income exclusion is set to 200% of the poverty guideline. The family income contribution sets a percent of the discretionary income that is used to help pay for college each year that the student is enrolled. The sliders shown to the right the families are set consistent with an assumption that they contribute 10% of their income greater than 200% of the poverty guideline each year to help pay for their student to attend college.

The percent discretionary income saved, years of savings and interest on savings sliders are used in a similar manner. Note that the interest on savings is real interest (interest earned after inflation). The sliders shown to the right are set consistent with an assumption that families save 5% of their discretionary income for ten years to help pay for their student to attend college.

The student hours worked slider sets the number of hours that the student works each year to help pay for college. All of the take home pay from the number of hours set with the slider is assumed to go toward paying the costs of attending college.

You can use the policy change change settings in several ways.  The Lumina Benchmark button toggles the settings for assumed family and student contributions from current income and savings on and off.  The tuition adjustment slider can be used to adjust tuition while estimating a change to the state appropriation that would be revenue neutral for the educational institutions.

Additionally, some states might display other policy or policy proposal exploration tools.  The slider SB 5476 is an example that might display when the State of Washington is selected.

The “inputs” portion of the table on the left side of the controls section contains overview information about the specific state and collection of institutions during the academic year that is specified.  One entry, “Years in college,” can be changed by you, the user.  For example the “4” that appears in the illustration to the left of this paragraph can be changed to 4.5 or 5.0 (or whatever) to represent a time of attendance different from the nominal amount associated with the collection of colleges or universities chosen.

The “model variables” portion of the table contains both information that summarizes the family’s contribution (top four items) and the variables used to determine “affordable debt” funding component.  “loan repayment ratio,” “Percentile of earner,” “Interest on debt,” and “Loan duration” can be set by you, the user.

“Loan repayment ratio” is the ratio of annual loan payment to gross earnings (after graduation).  “Percentile of earner” determines the annual earnings on which to base the affordable debt determination.  Interest on debt is the “annual percentage rate” associated with the loan.  Loan duration is the loan payoff period, in years.