Financial “need” is determined by a simple formula. Your school will calculate your Cost of Attendance (COA) and then subtract the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which was determined by your completion of the FAFSA. The remaining amount is considered your “need.”

Cost of Attendance (COA)
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
= Financial Need


Your Cost of Attendance (COA) is determined by your school and includes: tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and other school related expenses such as personal expenses.


Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the measurement of your family's financial strength used to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you are eligible to receive.


FAFSA4caster is a free online tool that provides you and your family with an estimate of your federal student aid eligibility by instantly calculating your EFC. Remember, this is not the official application for federal student aid.


University A                          University B

COA $16,500                          COA $8,000

—  EFC $2,000                        EFC $2,000

Need $14,500                        Need $6,000