Why Is My EFC So HIGH?

Q: I attend college full time and work part time. I do not make a lot of money. After I completed my FAFSA, I was shocked to see that my EFC is over $5,000. Why is my FAFSA EFC so high? What if I cannot afford my EFC? I have a lot of bills and do not qualify for any grants or scholarships. Is there anything I can do to lower my financial aid EFC?

A: This is a very common question. The answer is based on the income and assets you or your parents reported on the FAFSA form.

Your EFC is determined, in large part, by the amount of income and assets that you may have access to. If you are considered a dependent student, the income and assets of your parent will be considered. This is true even if your parents do not plan to help you pay for your education.

So, if you have a parent with a high annual income, you may discover that your EFC is very high and difficult to pay.

If you are a considered independent for the purposes of financial aid, then your income is considered. If your EFC is high, it should be because your income is high. But if you cannot afford your EFC, there may be a problem with the information you submitted on your FAFSA.

If this is the case and you cannot afford to pay your EFC, contact the financial aid office at your school. The financial aid office may be able to recommend ways to lower your EFC.

If your FAFSA was filled out correctly and your financial aid office cannot help you to lower your EFC, then you may have to consider student loans to help make up the difference.

While no one likes to take out student loans, they are not the end of the world. In fact the student loans offered by the federal government, including the Stafford and PLUS loan programs, are actually a relatively good deal. They come with low, fixed interest rates and repayment can be delayed until after you graduate.

If you do accept student loans, just be careful not to borrow more than you can comfortably repay after school.

If you do not want to accept student loans, you may want to consider reducing the amount of classes you are taking or attend school part time. While it might take longer for you to graduate, it may reduce your overall expenses and perhaps allow you to work more.

But before you make any decisions, check with your financial aid office and them know that you are having trouble and need help.

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