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Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Although financial aid is available, the primary responsibility for meeting college costs lies with students and their parents. It is important for you to be involved in completing forms (like the FAFSA) and to understand the evaluation of what it will cost to attend college. As you research financial aid options, you are going to hear the term Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a calculated estimate of how much you and your parents can contribute toward college costs. The result is based on data such as income and assets, family size, and the number of family members attending college. At each college you apply to, the financial aid advisor will subtract your EFC from that school's cost of attendance. The difference will be your eligibility for various types of aid at that college, also known as your "need." Typically, your EFC will be the same at each college, therefore, your eligibility for aid will vary with the cost of each college. In order to plan your college financing strategy, you and your parents need to investigate what your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) might be-even before you fill out any aid application (FAFSA or Financial Aid PROFILE) forms. Fortunately, there are some easily used options to help you figure out your EFC.

Calculating your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) The EFC can be calculated using two methodologies.

  • "Federal Methodology" The Federal Methodology (FM) is a need analysis formula used by the federal government. Based on the information captured on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the FM is used to determine eligibility for federal and state financial aid, as well as for institutional aid at some colleges.
  • "Institutional Methodology" The Institutional Methodology (IM) is a need analysis formula to assist colleges, universities, and private scholarship programs in determining eligibility for institutional and private financial aid funds. The IM relies on information collected on the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE Application for its calculations.
  • Both methods indicate the amount of money your family should be contributing to your education. Circumstances such as a loss of job, the divorce of your parents or the death of a parent may affect your eligibility for federal aid. If your family has special circumstances you or your parents should submit a letter of explanation to the college financial aid offices.