FAFSA Calculator | EFC Calculator

FAFSA.com is not affiliated with the Department of Education. The FAFSA can be filed for free, without professional assistance at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid calculates student aid based on a variety of information collected during the application process. This information-heavy calculation makes estimating aid difficult for students and families. To help families plan, FAFSA calculators like the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculator from College Toolkit are available to estimate how much aid a student could receive.

How your aid is calculated

The basic formula below is how financial aid is determined for each student. While the equation is fairly simple, calculating each piece of the equation is where this gets tricky.

  Cost of Attendance (COA)
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
= Financial Need

Calculating Cost of Attendance

Cost of Attendance is different at each school and is based on the total expenses a student will incur. This includes tuition, room and board, fees, and anything else a school requires from students. For example, if a school requires a laptop, this figure will be built in to a school's COA.

All Title IV schools are now required to have a Net Price Calculator on their websites to help families determine the cost of attending that school. To find out what the cost of attendance is for your school, look for your school's Net Price Calculator.

Calculating Expected Family Contribution

Eligibility for federal aid (and some institution or state-specific aid) is largely determined by a student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount that a family is expected to contribute toward college costs and is based on several factors including income, assets and number of dependents. This figure is subtracted from a school's Cost of Attendance (COA) to determine the remaining financial need. If you want to find out what your EFC is, an EFC calculator can help.

Determining Financial Need

Financial need is the gap between what college costs and what a family can afford. This gap is where the FAFSA comes in. Most financial aid is awarded based on financial need, including the following federal financial aid options:

Federal need-based aid does not always cover a family's financial need. In these cases, students and parents have a few more options. Federal aid is still available in the form of Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Graduate PLUS/Parent PLUS loans. Additionally, families can fill the gap with private student loans.