FAFSA Calculation

FAFSA Calculation for financial need and expected family contribution is made when the applicant submits Free Application for Federal Student Aid to the Department of Education.

Calculating the financial need is simple enough but the expected family contribution is calculated based on the parent(s)’s prior year tax return. When a student submits his or her FAFSA, the parent will need to provide certain things about their tax returns.

Based on what’s provided, the expected family contribution will be estimated. This can be found on the Student Aid Report of the student. Generally, the Student Aid Report is issued to students within a week of submitting their application. Once you know your expected family contribution, you can then go ahead and calculate your financial need.

Related Article: FAFSA Deadlines 2023 - 2024

That’s assuming you already know the cost of attendance of the school you’re planning on attending. You can look up the Cost of Attendance of any school by contacting the Financial Aid Office. As soon as you know the cost of attendance of a school, you can then figure out your financial need for attending that school.

Expected Family Contribution Matters

Your expected family contribution plays a big role in how much you qualify in financial aid and even whether or not you’re eligible for financial aid at all. If your expected family contribution is higher than the cost of attendance, you won’t be eligible for federal student aid.

To calculate financial need, subtract the expected family contribution from the cost of attendance and what you’re left with is your financial need.

Here is an example:

Cost of Attendance at Texas Tech University is $27,156

Expected Family Contribution of a Student is $15,000

27,156 – 15,000 = 12,156

In this example, the financial need of the student is $12,156.

Sometimes, the expected family contribution may be calculated incorrectly. If you think that yours is more than it should be, make sure to contact Federal Student Aid by calling 1-800-433-3243. This can be caused by providing incorrect information on FAFSA. You can make corrections on your FAFSA and get your new Student Aid Report based on the corrections you’ve made without the need for contacting the Federal Student Aid.

Although this is rare for most students, the expected family contribution can be $0. If that’s the case, the financial need of the student will be the full cost of attendance. Make sure to look up the cost of attendance of the school(s) you’ve listed on your FAFSA or anticipated to attend to see how the financial need fluctuates.

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