What is the DC Metro Area Self-Sufficiency Calculator?

The DC Metro Area Self-Sufficiency Calculator (DCMASSC) is a financial and career planning tool based on WOW's “Self-Sufficiency Standard for the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area” (available on the WOW Washington, DC Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Web page). The DCMASSC is designed to benefit both individual users and counselors who want to learn more about the real cost of living in the area and want to find jobs, education, training, and public supports for housing, child care, health care and other expenses.

What is the Self-Sufficiency Standard?

The Self-Sufficiency Standard was originally developed by Dr. Diana Pearce as part of Wider Opportunities for Women’s State Organizing Project for Family Economic Self-Sufficiency (FESS). The Standard uses the number and ages of household members to determine the income a household requires to meet basic needs without help from family, friends or the government. The Standard also shows users typical local living costs, including housing, child care, food, transportation and health care.

What does the DCMASSC do?


  • Calculates self-sufficiency wage/income;
  • Compares current household income to the self-sufficiency wage/income;
  • Suggests government benefits household members can receive;
  • Estimates taxes and tax credits;
  • Explains careers that pay well and will grow in the DC area over the next 10 years;
  • Lists area education and training programs related to those careers;  
  • Provides household budget and benefit eligibility reports.