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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.

  • 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.

Link to EFC and Other Financial Aid Calculators. links to  free Internet sites where you can enter your financial information into on-line forms. This service then automatically calculates your approximate EFC figure using either the Federal Methodology, which gives you a feel for your eligibility for federal aid, or using the Institutional Methodology which gives you a clue about how your Financial Aid PROFILE analysis may turn out.