Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Your EFC is meant to help you figure out how much you might have to pay for college.

So what is an EFC?footnote 1

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index number that colleges use to determine how much financial aid you’re eligible to receive. Your EFC is calculated according to a formula established by law and the information from your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

The EFC factors in your family's taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security). Your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year are also considered.

Note: Your EFC isn't the amount of money your family will have to pay for college and it isn't the amount of federal student aid you'll receive.

How your EFC affects your financial aid package

Typically, the lower your EFC, the more financial aid you'll be eligible to receive. Your financial need can be found by subtracting your EFC from a school's cost of attendance (COA). The COA is typically tuition, books, supplies, transportation, room, and board.

COA - EFC = financial need

Based on this formula, your school's financial aid office will prepare a financial aid package and send you a financial aid offer.

It's possible that the most expensive school on your list might not cost you the most. Don't let a school's sticker price be the only factor to sway your decision to apply. The fact is, most students receive some kind of financial aid including grants, scholarships, and/or work-study. It all depends on the total financial aid package awarded by each school. This information is available in your financial aid offer.

"The future excites me so much. There's so many things that are unknown in the future, so it's a whole big broad spectrum of, ‘You can do whatever you want.’"

Kate G., Bridging the Dream Scholarship winner

Related topics

footnote 1. This information was gathered on 04/14/23 from https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/grants and https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/grants/fseog

footnote FAFSA is a registered service mark of U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid.