What is Financial Need?

“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, and other school related expenses such as personal and travel expenses.

Your expected family contribution (EFC) is what the federal government expects you and your family to contribute toward your educational expenses based on a standard federal formula. Your EFC is:


University A

  COA $16,500
- EFC    $2,000
= Need $14,500

University B

  COA $8,000
- EFC $2,000
= Need $6,000

Professional Judgment

In some cases, your financial aid officer may be able to make adjustments to your “need.” Circumstances which may initiate professional judgment:

  • Loss of job/income
  • Divorce
  • National disasters
  • Other significant changes impacting your finances