Expected Family Contribution: What Does EFC 0 Mean on FAFSA?

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what does efc 0 mean on fafsa

You plugged in all your information, dotted your i’s, crossed your t’s, and finally your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is completed.

Now what?

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Sit tight. You’re waiting for the United States Department of Education to spit out this grand number, and that’s going to take a week or two. In the meantime, you’re going to need to know what Expected Family Contribution EFC means. The Expected Family Contribution, better known as the EFC, is a term used in the financial aid process to determine an applicant’s eligibility for federal student aid. It is located on the Student Aid Report (SAR). Basically, it estimates how much the government thinks you (if you’re independent) or your parents (if you’re dependent) can afford to pay for college without them.

The Basics of Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are a great option for students who need help paying for college. They offer a variety of benefits, such as low interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and the potential to qualify for forgiveness programs. Understanding how federal student loans work is essential if you’re considering taking out one of these loans.

FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an essential part of the financial aid application process for federal student loans. By submitting a FAFSA application, students can determine their federal aid eligibility, including federal student loans. FAFSA also provides information to the government about a student’s financial situation and helps to determine their ability to repay any loans they may receive. By submitting a FAFSA application, students are taking an important step towards securing the necessary financial aid award to pursue their educational goals.

Even if you don’t think you need a loan, it is still worth completing the FAFSA form. By doing so, you may be able to take advantage of Pell grants and other forms of federal student financial aid (besides loans) that can help reduce the cost of your education. There’s more federal financial aid than loans! You can have a full financial aid package you never have to pay back. In addition, some colleges and universities require that all students fill out the FAFSA form in order to be considered for admission. Since it differs from school to school, it’s best to contact a licensed financial professional at the financial aid office of the schools you want to attend for full instructions. Therefore, it is important to complete the FAFSA even if you don’t think you need a loan.

Why Do I Want My EFC Zero?

So how much financial aid can you get? If your EFC number is low, don’t despair, that’s actually good news: that means you will have more aid available to you! Zero is the lowest EFC number; 99,999 is the highest. If a dependent students’ family’s income is less than $24,000 and government assistance was needed for that filing year, the EFC will automatically be zero. A zero means a family has no ability to contribute to the student’s education.

If your number is high, well… Here’s where we hear the term sticker shock. The school and even the U.S. Department of Education don’t really think you’ll be able to fund the entire EFC amount, but they’ve decided you don’t need them. Don’t panic: this number isn’t necessarily what you have to pay to a college; it’s just a number they use to see if you qualify for need-based financial aid. A high number now means you need to explore something other than need-based financial aid. If all affects how much aid you can get. Federal aid favors lower incomes, for obvious reasons.

EFC is calculated from answers on the FAFSA, usually income ranking heaviest. If other members of the household are projected to attend college at the same time, that will also lower a student’s EFC. Unusual circumstances can also lower the EFC – loss of employment, loss of child support, divorce, death, or medical expenses not covered by insurance, for example. Be sure to answer all applicable questions on your FAFSA, even if they seem insignificant; this is crucial in determining an accurate EFC.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a critical tool that helps low-income students gain access to college. By completing the FAFSA, eligible students can receive federal grants and loans to help pay for their college education. The FAFSA also provides access to additional scholarships and grants from state governments, universities, and other organizations. By providing financial assistance to those who need it most, FAFSA allows low-income students the opportunity to pursue higher education and succeed in their chosen field.

Low-income students are often faced with the challenge of having to pay for college tuition and other expenses. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a way for these students to receive financial aid from the federal government. It is calculated based on a family’s income and assets, and is used to determine how much money a student can expect from their family in order to pay for college. The EFC also takes into account any special circumstances that may affect the student’s ability to pay, such as medical expenses or disability. It can help you get more financial aid, such as need based aid, or prove your need to apply for private scholarships. Knowing what your expected family contribution is can help you plan for college costs and make sure you are receiving all of the financial aid you need.

What Does EFC Mean?

The EFC will then be subtracted from the cost of attendance (COA) of the college or university to determine your financial need. Eligibility for most federal, state, even local and institutional aid programs are based on this number. For example, in order to get a pell grant in 2014-15 the maximum EFC for a student to be eligible is $5157.

Like we said above, if you have a low number, your college will work with you to obtain the need-based finical aid offered to you. If you have a high number, you need to consider other options. Choosing an affordable college or university is your first practical option. Also look to maximize your merit aid. Some schools offer merit money to affluent families.

Final Words

Paying for college isn’t easy for anyone; it’s more expensive than it’s ever been, and all but the super-wealthy are going to need some kind of financial help. Knowing your options, and knowing all of the terms thrown around, is essential to help keep yourself out of financial trouble. The process is different but similar for graduate students, so learn now! Educate yourself before your education, and choose an affordable, high-value college, and even a high EFC won’t be a stumbling block.


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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

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ValueColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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