The cost of attendance is the total cost of attending college for one academic year. This includes tuition, fees, room and board, books and other expenses. This figure is used solely for the determination of financial aid and does not represent a figure you will owe your university.
The expected family contribution is the amount of money that a student's family is expected to contribute to the cost of attending college. The EFC is calculated based on data from the FAFSA including data relating to the family's income, assets and other factors.
Financial need is the difference between the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution. If a student's financial need is high, they may be eligible for more financial aid. Sometimes a student loan or scholarship may be awarded independently of financial need.
The federal financial aid processor determines your individual family’s ability to contribute to the cost of your education using the information you provide on the FAFSA. This figure is used solely for the determination of financial need and does not represent a figure you will owe to attend a college or university.
The formula they apply is referred to as “federal methodology.” After receiving your EFC from the processor, a university will then subtract that EFC from the Cost of Attendance. In essence, the formula is Cost of Attendance-EFC=Financial Need.
The FAFSA is a form that students must fill out in order to be considered for federal financial aid, including grants, loans and work-study programs. The FAFSA asks for information about the student and their parent or guardian’s income, assets and other financial and familial factors. This information is sent directly to your university, which will then create your award package (see information on the financial aid award letter).
The FSA ID is a unique identifier a student creates when preparing to apply for federal financial aid. The FSA ID can be used to sign the FAFSA electronically, drastically decreasing the processing time.
Merit-based aid is financial aid that is awarded based on the student's academic or other achievements (GPA, test scores, etc.). Scholarships are an example of merit-based aid.
Need-based aid is financial aid that is awarded based on the student's financial need (see financial need definition above). Grants and work-study programs are examples of need-based aid.
Your school will determine how much aid you are eligible to receive; however, there are limits on the amount of subsidized and unsubsidized loans you can receive annually. This limit is referred to as the total aggregate loan limit. Loan limits are as follows:
Undergraduate Dependent Students: $31,000 (no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized)
Undergraduate Independent Students: $57,500 (no more than $23,000 of which can be subsidized)
Graduate and Professional Students: $138,500 (no more than $65,500 of which can be subsidized)