With the exception of some student loan programs, most financial aid is awarded on the basis of financial need. When you apply for federal student aid, the information you report is calculated using a formula established by Congress. This formula determines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), an amount you and your family are expected to contribute toward your education. (This amount may not exactly match the amount you and your family end up contributing.) If your EFC is below a certain amount, you may be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant, assuming you meet all other eligibility requirements.
There is not a maximum EFC that defines eligibility for the other financial aid programs. Instead, your EFC is used in the following equation to determine your financial need:
Cost of Attendance (COA) - Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need (FN)
We calculate your cost of attendance and subtract the amount you and your family are expected to contribute toward that cost. If there is anything left over, you are considered to have financial need. A financial aid package is put together for you that comes as close as possible to meeting your financial need. However, because funding is limited, the amount awarded to you may fall short of the amount of which you are eligible. When determining your need for aid, we must also consider other educational resources you are expected to receive during the school year.