The Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, is a measure of how much money you and your family is expected to contribute to your college education for one academic year.
Your EFC is calculated from the information provided on your FAFSA. The same information is also sent to the schools you listed on the FAFSA.
This is a very important number that will determine your need and eligibility for aid.
Using that information, the schools will determine your financial need1 and package your financial aid award accordingly.
For example, if your EFC is $8,000, and the college costs $15,000 to attend, you may be eligible for $7,000 worth of aid. On the other hand, if college A costs $6,000, you may not be offered financial aid (from college A), since FAFSA indicates you can pay that much out of your own pocket.
The federal government determines your Expected Family Contribution using a formula that takes into consideration family size, number of family members in college, family income, and assets.
- The lower your EFC, the more likely it is that you will be eligible for need-based aid, such as grants and subsidized federal loans.
- The higher your EFC, the less aid you’ll get, and the more you’ll pay out-of-pocket. And the more likely it is that you will need to find additional sources of aid that are not based on need, such as merit scholarships, savings, unsubsidized federal loans, or private education loans.
The best case senario is to get a Zero EFC for maximum aid eligibility. But to qualify for the Automatic Zero EFC, under the new legislation, your combined family’s Adjusted Gross Income must be
$30,000 $23,000 or less per year.
Once you know your EPC, it becomes a lot easier to get a realistic idea of the amount of out-of-pocket costs you’ll be expected to contribute to fill the gap between the cost of a school and financial aid you’re entitled to receive.
Keep in mind that your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your school to calculate the amount of aid you are eligible to receive.3