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."

Next Steps

First, you must complete the FAFSA. Filling out the FAFSA can be a bit of challenge because you will need to know very detailed financial information about the applicant and family. The FAFSA will calculate how much money your family is expected to pay for college.


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.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Every college has its own deadline for applying for financial aid. Know your deadlines and submit early! The reason you should submit early is because there is a finite amount of money in the financial aid budget. Submitting later puts you at risk for getting less or no money at all. Even though the FAFSA is usually available in November/December of the preceding year the easiest way to fill it out is to use the information from filing your taxes. Even if your taxes are not complete in February it would be a good idea to fill out estimated numbers on the FAFSA and then go back and edit once you have the exact numbers. Remember, the earlier you apply the better chance you have of receiving a larger financial aid package.

Site Director Class of 2020

Please contact me with further questions and for assistance in completing the financial aid process.