FAFSA, EFC's, & Graduate Fellowships

<p>I filled out a FAFSA for the first time just recently as a grad student and I'm quite confused. </p>

<p>I'm a graduate student applying for a fellowship to use while I pursue my PhD. I am currently a graduate research assistant and make ~$24,000 a year from that, before any taxes. I have no assets, trust funds, etc. The fellowship amount is dependent on need... the higher the need, the higher the funding. I got my EFC and it is ~$4,000. Does that seem correct? high? I am so lost as I expected it to be $0. In the info sessions for this fellowship they were like, "most of you will have 100% need and will get the full fellowship amount. some of you who have been working or are nontraditional students might receive a lower amount depending on your EFC"... I'm a traditional(ie poor) graduate student and does this mean I won't get the full fellowship?? Seems odd.</p>

<p>FWIW, I am an independent student. No ties to parental funds. </p>

<p>Any ideas?</p>