What is Expected Family ContributionWhen you submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the department will use the information that you present to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Contrary to popular believe, the EFC is not the amount that you are expected to pay towards college for tuition or other related costs. Instead, the EFC is an index number that is assigned to each application that will determine how much you will receive if your application is approved and if you are found to be eligible. If you would like to learn how the index is determined and what factors can affect eligibility.

What is the EFC Formula?

Federal aide is available to students on a needs basis. Since it is strictly based on your income, the department will use several different pieces of information based on your income to determine if you have a financial aide for the federally funded assistance. It is not just income that is used to consider your need and this is why there is a very detailed EFC formula.

What is Used to Calculate the EFC Index?

There are three separate EFC formulas that will be used based on your dependency status. There is a formula for dependents, for independents without dependents, and for independents who claim their own dependents.

For dependents, the parents’ household size, filing status, and income will be used in the calculations. Government assistance is also calculated and can affect EFC.

For independent students, the parents’ data is not used and the student can receive a 0 index with an income of $24,000 or less. Be sure to claim allowances to qualify for more aide.

How Much Assistance Can You Receive?

It is only natural to be curious to learn how much assistance that you will receive before you start applying to schools. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell exactly how much you will receive until your FAFSA is processed. It is the EFC and also the Cost of Attendance that will be used to determine your actual need to cover tuition fees, cost of room and board, costs of books, transportation fees, loan fees, childcare and more.

What is the Maximum Amount of Aide?

While it is difficult to estimate what you will receive until your application is approved, the maximum aide offered through the Pell Grant is $5775 for the academic year. You may also be able to apply for other state grants and forms of assistance to cover other educational expenses. Some schools will offer things like book assistance, parking passes or even tokens for public transportation in addition to the grants that are funded. This is why you need to review all of the forms of aide available while you are filling out your application.


It can be extremely expensive to attend college. While educational fees and expenses are on the rise, there are ways to get help so that you can earn your degree and better your life. Make sure that you apply for aide no matter what your situation is. If you have an income, you may still be able to receive a portion of the grant to cover anything from room and board to tuition and books. Research what your Expected Family Contribution is and get an idea of how much you can receive.

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