Why the Expected Family Contribution Impacts Your Federal Student Aid
By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
The most critical factor in determining your Federal Student Aid (FSA) award package is your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). EFC determines how much you and your family can realistically contribute to your educational expenses.
EFC is calculated based on a formula established by the Department of Education. This formula ensures that every potential student has equal treatment with regard to financial aid.
EFC is complicated to understand. Below is some information to help you understand EFC more clearly.
- Your school calculates your EFC formula according to the information you provided on your FAFSA. You and/or your family’s income, assets and benefits are all considered in the EFC formula.
- The size of your family and the number of family members you have in college impact your EFC.
- Your FSA award package is heavily based on your EFC. If you have a high EFC, you will be eligible for a lesser amount of federal student aid.
- Students with an EFC of “0” are usually eligible for the largest financial aid awards.
- Students with lower EFCs will receive more need-based aid than those with higher EFCs. EFC (along with your enrollment status) directly affects how much of the Pell Grant you receive each semester. Other need-based aid, such as Direct Subsidized Loans and Federal Work Study, goes to students with lower EFCs.
- Your EFC is not about the amount of federal financial aid you receive, nor is it about how much money you contribute. EFC is a number used by your school to determine how much FSA you are eligible for.
- Even though EFC is the biggest consideration in determining your FSA award package, it is not the only factor in calculating your federal student aid. Your enrollment status, the cost of attendance at your school and your grade level also play a part in the amount of federal financial aid you receive each semester.
EFC is not something you can alter to get a higher amount of financial aid. You must provide accurate financial numbers. The correct information you provide will help you clearly understand how much aid you can expect to receive and how much you’ll contribute toward your education.