One of the most important concepts in Financial Aid is the Expected Family Contribution. It is also the most misleading AND many find it to be the most absurd.
Fill out the FAFSA to get your EFC
After you submit your FAFSA, you will receive your EFC. You can also get an estimated EFC by going to pomcollegeconsulting.com/efc-calculator.
Colleges use the EFC to determine your financial needs
It is misleading because it's easy to assume if someone tells you this is the amount you are "expected to contribute," then you figure out how to contribute that amount of money, right? Well in the case of the EFC, it actually is more of a deductible.
Here's why: Colleges take their Total Cost of Attendance-your EFC to determine your need. In other words, TCOA-EFC=Need.
They only meet a percentage of your need. This means they only help with some of your need. Whatever they do NOT help with, you are required to come up with in ADDITION to your EFC.
For Example: $25,000 (TCOA)- $10,000 (EFC)=$15,000 (need)
If the school meets 50% of your need, they will give you $7500 in Financial Aid. That leaves another $7500 of "unmet need" which is going to be added to your EFC ($10,000) and you will be "expected to contribute" $17,500. See why it feels misleading to call that $10,000 an "Expected" number?
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The part that makes EFC feel absurd is the number itself. After you earn your money, working hard every single day-pay your taxes-pay your bills-put a few bucks away in savings, etc.- There isn't always a whole lot left! The EFC formula suggests otherwise. I have seen families that make $80,000 a year, get told that their EFC is $13,000! Really? They have $13,000 left after taxes and bills to pay for college? Best case? HMMM
To your financial health!