Financial Need

Most people believe they need financial assistance to pay for college. Because there is so much need and funds are limited, the federal government has set policies to measure need.

The federal government defines financial need as the difference between your cost of attendance and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). In other words:

Cost of attendance
= Financial need

Therefore, if you choose to attend a local community college, your financial need may be small, while if you choose to attend an expensive private college, your financial need may be large.

Financial need analysis results in:

  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)—the amount you and your family will be expected to contribute.
  • Estimated cost—the total cost of attending the college of your choice, including tuition, books and fees, room and board, transportation, and incidental expenses.
  • Financial need—the amount the college will attempt to find for you in the form of a financial aid package. Most financial aid packages include a variety of types of aid.

Once you determine your financial need, the college you plan to attend will help you to identify sources of financial aid to meet your need. If you apply for assistance early, they may be more successful in finding financial aid.