Before heading off to college, many students will begin the big search for financial aid. For most, that will mean filling out the FAFSA.Â® And that involves calculating the expected family contribution.
Though filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is pretty straightforward, understanding a studentâs eligibility and how much financial aid they could receive can be confusing.
Hereâs what aspiring college students need to know about EFC and how it affects their potential aid.
Expected Family Contribution as Part of the Picture
The expected family contribution is an estimate of how much money a family can contribute toward a studentâs college education.
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How the EFC Is Calculated?
As the Federal Student Aid office notes, the EFC is calculated according to a formula established by law. It takes into account both a family’s taxed and untaxed income, any assets the family has, and any benefits it receives.
The calculation also considers a familyâs size and the number of family members who will attend college or career school during the same year.
Students cannot receive more need-based aid from a school than the amount they need. For example, if the cost of attendance is $20,000 and the studentâs EFC is $10,000, the student is then only eligible for up to $10,000 in need-based aid.
Need-based aid can be provided through a number of programs, including federal Pell Grants, Direct Subsidized Loans, and work-study programs.
Fill Out the FAFSAÂ® Early?
A student may qualify for a specific amount of need-based aid but may not receive all of it. Thatâs because the amount a student receives depends on the available funding at their school.
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