Which College Can You Really Afford?

A workbook to help Washington State students who are planning to attend college navigate their finances and figure out what path is best for them and their situation.
Team: Emma Brennan
Advisor: Karen Cheng
Role: Research, Infographic Design, Illustrations
Tools: Figma, Procreate
Duration: 10 weeks


Create an infographic that pertains to student loans!
This is a PNG of Research for a graduate student and his loan journey


Problem Space —
We found that most problems with loans and finances start at with high schoolers. Many of them feel unprepared and often don't take time to think about how their college choices may impact them long term.
Solution —
We decided to help condense and summarize the main ideas of The Financial Aid Handbook by Carol Stack and Ruth Vedvik into an easy, affable, and understandable workbook that allows students to face their finances head on and decide what college they can really afford.


During the first few weeks we had the tasks to research any reliable website that discussed loans and narrow down sources that we thought best suited our target audience.

Although we had great websites that allowed for more specific schools in Washington State, we finally came upon The Financial Aid Handbook, thanks to the help of our advisor Karen Cheng.

What's so great about Washington?

We chose to provide more information on Washington State because it was the place we could personally relate to and we speak on with more knowledge and advice for future college students! We wanted to incorporate our own voice within the booklet similar to how Stack and Vedvik did theirs. In narrowing down our audience even more, it created a more intimate and empathetic experience for the reader

Drafts, Drafts, and Illustrations!

While we finally got our information and numbers down, our booklet didn't present the best design and tone that we were hoping for. Our pages were stacked with numbers and graphs but our colors couldn't save the bland overtone that was presented in our first iterations. Although, there was a silver lining, we found that people were really drawn to the illustration of the college bedroom and found it more light hearted and fun! So we pursued incorporating more illustrations and life hacks that would best fit our audiences needs.

Content Mapping

With any book, we needed to figure out what the journey was for the student all while incorporating some of the topics and equations found in The Financial Aid Handbook. Splitting it up into four sections we allowed the reader to go on the journey of figuring out how much college may cost, how they may afford it, how they would figure out their finances for it, and —in the end how— they will succeed in finding the best school that is right for them.


I wanted the illustrations to feel fun but not too juvenile and especially on brand for what we were talking about. To make it simple I made them monochromatic with details only here and there judging what felt like too much or too little. It was a great learning experience in figuring out dimensionality and project management for the various illustrations needed within a 10 wk time span.

The End Result

For many high school students, subjects like loans are foreign subjects and are often not talked about, we created an inviting space to talk about money, What College Can You Really Afford? is a booklet that helps high school graduates learn about student loans while understanding their personal finances.

Our final deliverable is a 63-page informational workbook with informational graphs, work pages, and friendly illustrations, that enables Washingtonians to understand and make smart choices about their student loans.