What Is the FAFSA Formula?

What is behind the FAFSA formula? How is financial aid determined?

Your FAFSA responses are entered into a formula (known as the Federal Methodology), which is regulated by the Higher Education Act of 1965.

The exact formula is not public, but we can give you some details.

The income and tax information you put on the FAFSA will play the largest role in determining how much aid you will be eligible to receive.

In most cases, the government is looking at the income information of the parents because most students are considered dependent for the purposes of the FAFSA.

The result of the FAFSA formula is your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. The EFC is a preliminary estimate that measures the financial strength of your family and is the amount you will be expected to contribute to your total education costs.

The EFC is subtracted from the Cost of Attendance at the school(s) you plan to attend to determine your eligibility for federal student aid.

The FAFSA can be completed online at: www.fafsa.ed.gov

How do I figure out what my FAFSA EFC will be?

If you want to guesstimate what your EFC will be there are EFC Calculators available on the Web. A good source for financial aid calculators is: www.finaid.org

After you submit the FAFSA, the Department of Education will send you a report, called a Student Aid Report (SAR) by email or by postal mail depending on the addresses that we have on file for you. The SAR lists the information you reported on your FAFSA. At the upper right of the front page of the SAR, you will find a figure called the EFC.

How much financial aid do I get?

Schools will use your EFC to prepare a financial aid package (grants, loans, and/or work-study) to help you meet your financial need. Financial need is the difference between your EFC and your cost of attendance (which can include living expenses).

TIP: If you (or your family) have unusual circumstances that impact your financial situation, contact your school financial aid office. Some examples include: unusual medical expenses, or a large change in income from last year to this year.

When do I get the financial aid?

Your financial aid will be paid to you through your school. Typically, your school will first use the aid to pay tuition, fees, and room and board (if provided by the school). Any remaining aid is given to you for your other expenses.

Where can I get more information about federal student aid?

The financial aid office at the school you plan to attend is the best place to get information about federal, state, school and other sources of student financial aid.

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