Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Overview

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What is EFC? The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount a family can be expected to contribute toward a student’s college costs. Financial aid administrators determine an applicant’s need for federal student aid from the U.S. Department of Education and other sources of assistance by subtracting the EFC from the student's cost of attendance (COA).

The expected family contribution formula is used to determine the need for federal aid from programs such as the following:

All data used to calculate a student’s EFC comes from the information the student provides on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who applied for federal student aid in prior years may be eligible to re-apply by filing a Renewal FAFSA online. Applying for federal aid is free. However, to be considered for non-federal aid (such as alternative student loans), a student may have to fill out additional forms.

Once the FAFSA has been processed, the student will receive a document containing information about his or her application results. This document, which can be paper or electronic, is called a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR lists all the information from the student’s application and indicates whether or not the application was complete and signed. If the application is complete, signed and there is no conflicting data, the SAR will also include the student’s expected family contribution.

What is the EFC Formula? The methodology for determining the EFC is found in Part F of Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Updated tables used in the computation of the EFC for the 2013-2014 Award Year were published in the Federal Registrar. For more detailed information and an FAQ, download the Dept. of Education's EFC Guide.

What is an EFC code? You might've heard of FAFSA EFC codes - but they don't exist. What some people mistake as an EFC code is actually just the result of your expected family contribution calculation. You can check yours by using the FAFSA4caster. If your resulting number is 35070 that means $35,070 is your expected family contribution for your tuition in the upcoming school year.