What is the Expected Family Contribution?

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a number calculated from the data you submit on the FAFSA and CSS Profile. The formula used to calculate EFC takes a variety of factors into account. Understanding what EFC means and how it impacts your financial aid eligibility is important. This article will break down EFC and what it means for your family.

The Expected Family Contribution is a number that the federal government calculates from the financial information you provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or a college’s supplemental form, such as the CSS Profile. Your EFC is a six-digit number that may contain leading zeros. This number can be low or high, depending on your family’s circumstances. A lower EFC means more financial need, and you should be able to get a larger need-based financial aid package.

The EFC is an index that determines your eligibility for certain types of federal financial aid. It includes grants, work-study programs, and student loans. A college’s cost of attendance is a factor in determining your eligibility for private aid, as well. You can figure out your EFC by using the FAFSA, which will give you a Student Aid Report. Some colleges also use EFC formulas to calculate their financial aid packages. How the EFC is calculated varies between colleges, including how they weigh different assets and how they treat debt and savings. Some assets, such as 529 plans, are treated differently than others. Other factors, such as having children in college at the same time, are also weighed differently.

How to Calculate the Expected Family Contribution
What is the Expected Family Contribution? 1

How to Calculate the Expected Family Contribution?

The formula used to calculate an EFC considers various factors, including the student’s and parent’s income, assets, and household size. Each factor is weighted differently depending on which form is used — the FAFSA or CSS Profile. Some assets are weighted more heavily than others. For instance, 529 plans are weighed more than savings accounts and checking accounts. In addition, the amount of debt that a family has is considered when determining an EFC. Finally, the formula also takes into account a parent’s negative adjusted available income (AAI).

The total parent and student contributions are then added together to form an EFC. The EFC is not a fixed amount but a percentage of the family’s net worth. This percentage can be lowered by the inclusion of the student’s contribution from assets or by applying special allowances for certain circumstances. For example, the EFC of a dependent student who is a caretaker of a disabled sibling can be lowered by applying a special allowance for “dependency.” Similarly, an independent student’s EFC is reduced by applying a special allowance for a spouse’s employment status or disability.

While the expected family contribution is a useful indicator of your family’s financial strength, it is not an accurate measure of how much you will need to pay for college. It is also important to understand how EFCs are calculated and what they mean for the overall process of applying for aid.

A helpful tool is a free online EFC calculator, which allows students to see their results before filling out the FAFSA. These calculators use the official federal financial aid formulas to calculate a student’s Student Aid Index (SAI), similar to the old Expected Family Contribution (EFC) name. They can also be used to calculate the EFC of a student’s parents or spouse, including allowances for both taxed and untaxed income and assets.

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