Finding your Magic Number
Financial aid and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
"Do not assume you will be ineligible [for financial aid] before calculating your expected contribution with this tool," says Robert Massa, vice president of enrollment, student life, and college relations at Dickinson College (PA). "While it is only an estimator, it can give you a very good idea of your possible eligibility for aid."
The FAFSA is not the end of the calculations though. Each individual college will then take the EFC they receive from the FAFSA and come up with their own individual financial aid packages. Each college will have different package amounts. These packages could include:
Loans: These must be paid back but many times can be deferred while in school and have low interest rates. Be sure to look at each loan carefully and consider how they will be repaid.
Grants: These are gifts that do not have to be paid back.
Work-study: This requires the student to work part-time at an on-campus job and will be given in the form of a paycheck.