Your financial need is calculated using a simple formula: Cost of Attendance – Expected Family Contribution = Financial Need.
What does cost of attendance (COA) mean?
Your COA is the amount it will cost you to go to school. Most two-year and four-year colleges will calculate your COA to show your total cost for the school year (for instance, for the fall semester plus the spring semester). Schools with programs that last a different period of time (for instance, an 18-month certificate program) might give you a COA that covers a time period other than a year.
If you’re attending at least half-time, your COA is the estimate of
- Tuition and fees
- The cost of room and board (or living expenses for students who do not contract with the school for room and board)
- The cost of books, supplies, transportation, loan fees and personal expenses associated with being a student
What’s the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
Your EFC is an index number that college financial aid staff use to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school. The information you report on your FAFSA is used to calculate your EFC.
The EFC is calculated according to a formula established by law. Your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) all could be considered in the formula. Also considered are your family size and the number of family members who will attend college or career school during the year.
The 2017–18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) season will begin earlier than previous FAFSA application cycles. Beginning on October 1, 2016, students will be able to fill out the FAFSA for the 2017–18 school year. (In the past, they had to wait until January 1). In addition, applicants will no longer need to estimate income and tax information and will be able to retrieve their data directly from the IRS, right from the first day the FAFSA is available.