In the EFC formula, 2 separate calculations are made. One uses the parent income and assets to calculate a parent generated part of the EFC. The other uses student income and assets to calculate a student generated part of the EFC. The 2 are added together to come up with your actual EFC.
Under the special automatic 0 EFC formula, everything else is ignored once the formula ascertains that the parent AGI is under the cut off (currently $23k) and meets one of the other criteria. So all other data is ignored including parent assets and student income and assets (so no student portion is calculated). Under current rules, a student could earn $30,000 and have a 0 EFC if his parent's income qualified him for the automatic 0 EFC because the auto 0 formula would disregard the student's income.
But, if the student does not qualify for the auto 0 (parent AGI over the cut off or does not meet one of the other criteria), then even if the parent generated part of the EFC is 0, student income and assets will be used to calculate a student generated part of the EFC (if any).
The student's income and assets are only applied to their own EFC calculation, not to their siblings. So 2 students from the same family can end up with completely different EFCs.
Last edited by swimcatsmom; 10-06-2012 at 10:01 PM.