Eligibility for financial aid is based on an analysis of student and family financial need, supplied by information provided on the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Financial Need = Cost of Attendance -- Expected Family Income Contribution.
Cost of Attendance -- COA
Cost of Attendance (COA) is made up of all the direct and indirect costs of attending a college.
Direct costs are paid directly to the college.
- Room and Board
Indirect costs are expenses not necessarily paid directly to the college, but are part of attending college. While each college provides an estimate, these costs vary depending on your personal requirements. Indirect costs may include:
- Personal care items
- Spending money
- Dependent care expenses
- Expenses related to a disability
Because tuition and living expenses differ from college to college, the cost of attendance can vary widely. The college’s estimate of its Cost of Attendance is part of the equation that determines your amount of financial need.
Expected Family Contribution -- EFC
The other part of the equation is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount of money a family can reasonably be expected to contribute toward the student’s college costs, which is determined by information provided on the FAFSA including:
- Your family’s income (taxable and untaxable)
- Assets and benefits (for example, unemployment or Social Security)
- Family size and the number of family members who will be attending a college
Your EFC stays the same, regardless of the college selected.
Some colleges provide flexibility for special circumstances such as the family’s unusual medical expenses or unemployment. If you have unusual circumstances, be sure to discuss them with the college financial aid administrator and provide any required documentation.