Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

EFC? COA? What the .....

sialoprojectsialoproject Registered User Posts: 32 New Member
edited March 2007 in Parents Forum
Ok so i never quite understood this and many post in financial aid didn't help so...

SO our EFC is 15,000 dollars
and my school UT is 20,000 dollars

5000 dollar is what i can expect the most or is it just a guide line?
what does it really say about how much i am going to get?
Post edited by sialoproject on

Replies to: EFC? COA? What the .....

  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,657 Senior Member
    It says almost NOTHING about what you are going to get. The college is under no obligation to meet the FAFSA EFC. Almost all colleges that promise to meet "100% need" of all their students ALSO redefine EFC to suit their purposes, based on additional info they collect -- such as looking at home equity.

    The FAFSA determines whether or not you qualify for federally subsidized aid programs. No more, no less. With your example, you do not qualify for a Pell grant (EFC has to be around $4000 or less to qualify, I'm not sure of the exact number) -- and you qualify for loans. The Stafford loans are available from outside lenders, so you are guaranteed to be eligible for a $3500 Stafford loan your first year... UNLESS you get a grant or scholarship of more than $1500 from your school, which would cut into the $5000 worth of aid eligibility that you have.

    Perkins loans and work study are administered by the schools and they don't have to offer any particular number of jobs or loans, so whether or not you could get them depends on the practices of the individual schools.

    Most colleges will gap, so your financial aid award could very well be a $3500 Perkins loans and nothing else. My son's #1 choice college did that to him - we had an EFC of around $12K, the college cost $30K, they said - sorry, no money -- and offered him a $2700 Stafford loan (the maximum available at the time -- it has only gone up to $3500 for the coming year).
  • hsmomstefhsmomstef Registered User Posts: 3,579 Senior Member
    I will start with some definitions:

    COA is the Cost of Attendance. This figure is calculated by the School, not by students or parents, and includes tuition, room and board, books, personal expenses and transportation costs. Each school will have several COA budgets, depending on different factors (in-state, out-of-state, commuter, residential, international, etc)

    EFC is the Expected Family Contribution. this number is calculated based on income and assets (both parents and students). This is the amount the family (parents and students) are expected to contribute.

    Demonstrated Need is the difference between your COA and your EFC. this is the amount that you need in Financial aid to attend.

    Gapping refers to the practice of not meeting your demonstrated need. in other words, the school does not provide a financial aid package that totals up to your demonstrated need -- which means that the family has to pay the EFC and the Gapped amount.

    now -- to use your example. your family has an EFC of $15,000 and the school has a COA of $20,000. so -- COA-EFC=Demonstrated Need. $20,000-$15,000=$5,000.

    So -- your demonstrated need is $5000. I am not sure which UT you are referring to -- but looking at the college board website for UT Austin


    it says that UT meets 89% of need -- so if you get the average package, your financial aid package will be for $4450.

    Again, according to the average package info on college board -- the FA award will be 53% grants and 47% loans/work-study -- so, your package may have $2091 in loans/work-study and $2358 in grants.

    the statistics are a general figure -- I doubt seriously that the numbers are extremely accurate -- but it should give you a good idea of how it works.

    Merit aid (not need based -- what are sometimes called institutional scholarships) are often given to students that the school really wants. You can definitely get more than $5000 if the award is a non-need based award, but for need-based awards, you will only get what your demonstrated need is.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,657 Senior Member
    No -- that's not how it works. The average does not devolve down to the original. The breakdown between loans & grant almost always starts with maximum amount of Stafford loans and a big chunk of work study -- so if need is $5000K, UT is definitely going to require a $3500 Stafford loan - and if it met full need, it will probably tack on an extra $1500 in work study or Perkins loans. It probably WILL meet 100% need in this case, but all with loans and work-study -- since those forms of aid don't cost the university money. The offer of a work-study grant is no guarantee of employement, so it doesn't hurt the university to give out a lot of work-study awards and let the students compete among themselves for limited positions and hours.

    That 47% loans/work study figure vs. 53% grants comes from the needier students -- the ones with 0 EFC who have $7K loans + work study and $12K in grants. The colleges NEVER work off of a percentage - they always build the aid packages starting with maximum loans/work study - unless they are leveraging aid to give preferential packaging to high stat students and recruited athletes.

    Nor do they every work off of a percentage like "everyone gets 89%" of need -- those numbers generally mean that some people get full need and some people get little or none. In other words, maybe 70% of the students have full need awards, and 30% have very skimpy awards, and when you average them all together comes out to 89%.

    The only "average" that means anything is the average dollar amount for loans and indebtedness. Look at that number as a likely MINIMUM and you will get a more clear idea of your likely award -- again, because the colleges almost always build the financial aid awards from loans first.
  • hsmomstefhsmomstef Registered User Posts: 3,579 Senior Member
    that makes sense -- but i was thinking that you could at least get an idea of what a package is comprised of. it makes sense that the higher the EFC, the more loans and work-study. Thanks for the correction.
  • originaloogoriginaloog Registered User Posts: 2,645 Senior Member
    Strong candidates should to cast a wide net which includes their in-state flagships, some strong matches, some strong safeties and if so inclined some reaches. If money is not a factor the candidates can be more heavily weighted toward the later. If not, the former.

    Remember, applicants are in shopping mode and the more good choices the better. However a student should never apply to a college which he/she cannot fathom attending other than for financial considerations. There will always be better choices available.
  • motherof4pearlsmotherof4pearls Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    IMHO, the bottom line is that you only really know what the FA package from each school is going to be when you get it in the mail. And even then, there may be adjustments.

    From our experience we learned to expect a wide variety of FA packages.
This discussion has been closed.