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How is Financial Need Determined

  • A student's financial need is the difference between the student's cost of attendance at the school and the amount the family is expected to contribute to the student's education.
  • Determination of an applicant's need is achieved by collecting information about the family's income, assets, and living expenses.
  • For the federal student aid program, the law specifies a need analysis formula that produces the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  • The EFC and the school's cost of attendance (COA) are used by the postsecondary school to establish the student's need, as well as to award grants, campus-based aid, and subsidized loans.
  • For an EFC calculation, a student must complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 
  • As students fill out the FAFSA application online, they will also designate what schools they wish for their processed information to be sent to. 
COA - EFC = Financial Need


The Financial Package
  • Using all federal and nonfederal aid, the financial aid administrator at the postsecondary school constructs a financial package that comes as close as possible to meeting the student's demonstrated financial need.  However, because funds for all programs are limited, the amount awarded can be less than the amount for which the student is eligible.  Again, this is why it is so important to complete the FAFSA early.
  • Students may accept or decline any of the financial aid offered.
  • If students have questions about their financial aid packages, these questions can be best handled by the financial aid office at the postsecondary school.