Determining Need

When you apply for federal student aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the information that you report (income, assets, number of family members, number in college, etc.) is applied to a formula established by the U.S. Congress. The formula calculates your family’s ability to pay for your educational expenses, and produces a figure that is referred to as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

The basic formula for determining financial need is: Cost of Attendance (COA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need.  COA may also be referred to as a student expense budget.