EFC means the process of measuring a student's financial position calculated using a formula set by the law.
The process of calculation includes assets, social securities, taxed and untaxed income, candidate's family size, and those in the family who attend college during the particular year.
There is a general misconception among the students and parents that you should keep in mind, which is your EFC is not the amount of money that is expected of your family to pay for your college nor is the amount of federal student aid you will be receiving, instead, it is a number used to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive in your school.
If you’ve filed your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form by giving the correct information necessary to check your SAR (Student Aid Report). Have you ever wondered how the data consisting of a list of eligible financial aid comes up? Well, that’s where EFC comes into play, keep reading this article to know more about EFC.
Also Read - A complete guide on FAFSA
How is the EFC Calculated?
Your EFC is basically calculated from the information that you provide in your FAFSA form, which will be the first step that you’ll have to do in order to obtain financial aid for your education.
As aforementioned, it takes a few factors into consideration such as the household income and the family members respective of the dependency status whether the student is dependent or independent with a spouse or even independent student with dependents other than a spouse.
The formula for EFC is classified into a standard and simplified format for each applicant.
The applicants who are eligible for the simplified formula will not be required to fill in much financial information in order to estimate their EFC.
This simplified EFC formula is generally for families with lower income that is mostly with earnings below $49,000, and also those who currently benefit from federal assistance programs such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Security Income Program, or the Free & Reduced Price School Lunch Programs and more.
There are other common forms of federal need-based aid that are as follows -
Federal Pell Grant
Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
Direct Subsidized Loan
Federal Perkins Loan
Ultimately, one thing that you should keep in your mind is EFC is not the amount of money your parents or you have to pay, but instead, it helps the federal government and your school decide how much financial aid you will receive based on the information you have provided in the FAFSA.
To give you a clear picture of what is EFC is, refer to the simple equation given below
COA - EFC = Financial need.
It looks so simple, just subtracting it from your school’s (COA) Cost Of Attendance. Your financial need can’t exceed your cost of attendance.
For example, if your COA is $10,000, and your EFC is $5,000, then you can’t receive more than $5,000, in your financial need.
To know more visit The EFC Formula 2019-2020.
What if your EFC is zero?
If the student’s family’s financial situation couldn’t contribute anything towards the student’s college education, then that student’s EFC can be zero.
You may have a question “what happens if my EFC is zero?” the SAR will appear as multiple zeros in a row. When the student has zero EFC, that doesn’t mean the school will be covering the complete cost of attendance.
The fact is most of the schools will only cover 50-60% of the student’s financial aid. After subtracting the amount the school has covered, the remaining amount is said to be known as an unmet need. The student or his family will have to be responsible for finding other financial sources for this unmet need.
A person making less than $25,000 and if he files a 1040 or 1040EZ tax return then EFC will automatically be zero.
Factors that Influence EFC
Not everyone gets an EFC to pay for a student’s education there are many factors that influence the amount of money that can be available for the family.
Income is one of the most obvious factors, diversion from the median income of $50,000 in 2010-2020 could result in an increased or decreased need for aid.
However there are few things that you think may not be considered in the income but they do count such as Social Security benefits, combat pay, and also contributions to retirement accounts.
Like the influencing factors, there are also few factors that are not taken into consideration in terms of obtaining an EFC are as follows.
Debts are not considered
Previous Student Loans
The primary residence is also not considered an investment as per the FAFSA Guidelines.
Why Does the EFC Matter?
According to the College Board, it is said that 54% of the high school students are not considering financial aid when choosing a school. The EFC is used for many purposes than just estimating the financial need.
The EFC is also used to help students in determining which school to attend. So it is recommended that the students determine their EFC in advance so by using that number the students might be able to choose schools based on affordability with aid.
It also keeps the students more informed with the choices about their educations and value attached to it.
And bt knowing your EFC you can make decisions with respect to their financial means and objectives. You can plan your future education plans on which college to apply for and also trying to make arrangement on how to cover the college expenses.