Financial Aid Basics
For many students, financial aid can greatly affect their decision about whether or not to attend college, or which institution they should attend. Because of its importance, the decision to apply for financial aid, and which programs to accept, should be made only with a complete understanding of the application process, benefits, terms, conditions, and other responsibilities.
Financial aid is any grant, scholarship, educational loan, or part-time employment, offered for the express purpose of helping a student pay for educationally related expenses. Such aid is usually provided by federal, state, institutional, or private agencies. If you qualify, you may be offered any one, or a combination of these types of aid, depending on your financial need and the funds available from each source. Scholarship awards may also depend upon achievement or a talent/ability. Students are not allowed to receive aid that exceeds their estimated cost of attendance.
Determining Financial Need
When applying for federal student aid, the information you report on the FAFSA is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The formula used to calculate your EFC is established by law and is used to measure your family's financial strength on the basis of your family's income, assets, family size and number of family members in post-secondary education. The EFC is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid as well as other student aid programs. Cost of Attendance (COA) is also referred to as a budget. Financial need is determined by subtracting the EFC from the COA. Please see the formula below.
Cost of Attendance
- Expected Family Contribution
= Financial Need
Your eligibility for need-based aid is determined by subtracting other outside financial assistance (scholarships) from the calculated financial need. Students are not allowed to receive aid that exceeds their Cost of Attendance.
- Other outside Financial Assistance
= Eligibility for need-based aid (grants, subsidized student loans and work study)