What is EFC, or Expected Family Contribution?

The Expected Family Contribution, soon to be replaced by the ‘Student Aid Index’ for the 2024-25 academic year, helps determine how much college financial aid you qualify for.
Eliza Haverstock
Anna Helhoski
By Anna Helhoski and  Eliza Haverstock 
Updated
Edited by Des Toups

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When can I update my FAFSA application? The redesigned FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year is available at FAFSA.gov. Due to major processing delays, you won't be able to make changes to your submitted FAFSA until the first half of April, at the soonest.

You can still submit the 2023-24 FAFSA until June 30, 2024.

Dive deeper into FAFSA

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index number used by college financial aid offices to determine the amount of financial aid for which you are eligible in an upcoming academic year. It's calculated using the information you provide on the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The EFC will be replaced by the Student Aid Index starting in the 2024-25 academic year. The change is part of a simplified FAFSA form that will open up to students sometime in December 2023.

If you still need to submit the FAFSA for the 2023-24 academic year, you’ll encounter the EFC. This form for this year is open until June 30, 2024. After that, the EFC will become obsolete.

How is the Expected Family Contribution calculated?

The EFC is calculated using the information you provide on the FAFSA. The EFC formula factors in your family's income, investments and other assets, as well as the number of people in your family and whether any of them are also attending college that year.

You’ll see your EFC listed in the upper right corner of your Student Aid Report, as long as your FAFSA was completed in full. Your Student Aid Report can be found by logging into the My FAFSA page and choosing "View SAR."

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Why does your EFC matter?

A college’s financial aid staff uses your EFC to determine your financial need. They take the school’s total cost of attendance, including tuition, fees and room and board, then subtract your EFC to calculate the maximum amount of need-based aid you’re eligible for.

Say, for example, a school’s total cost of attendance is $20,000 and your EFC is $5,000. You could qualify for up to $15,000 of need-based aid through programs like federal Pell Grants, direct subsidized loans and work-study.

The amount you receive depends on funding availability at your school. For example, Pell Grant and work-study programs each have limited funds available every year, so you might not get the full amount you qualify for if you apply late in the FAFSA season.

Colleges aren’t required to meet 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need (that’s the total cost minus your EFC).

If you don't get enough financial aid, schools often suggest filling that gap with aid that's not based on financial need, such as direct unsubsidized loans and federal PLUS loans. Only after you've taken all federal aid available should you turn to private student loans.

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