Is "Estimated Net Price" the same thing as your EFC?

I’m using the net price calculator for the colleges that I’m interested in and most of them say that my “Estimated Net Price” is around 10,000 each year. The weird thing is that my parents make less than 30k each year. I thought my EFC would be 0… so are these two the same thing or is the FAFSA EFC different?

The net price calculator number and the EFC are not the same thing at all. Not at all.

The net price calculator gives you a decent guestimate of the net cost for the school.

The FAFSA gives you an estimated family contribution…estimated is the big word here. Plus…the EFC is really for federally funded need based aid determination.

The key thing…MOST colleges do not meet the full need for all accepted students. So…your net price could very well be a lot higher than your FAFSA EFC.

An auto $0 EFC would mean you would receive the maximum Pell Grant (about $5730 per year). You would also be able to take a Direct Loan for freshman year if $5500. You might receive SEOG, and a Perkins Loan…and some states have grants for low income students based on your FAFSA EFC.

Yes, they are different. The FAFSA number is used to determine your eligibility for federal aid (like Pell Grants). Each college does its own calculation of the net price you will pay. They often add things in or use different calculations than FAFSA. Usually your net price calculator result will be higher than your FAFSA EFC. You have to run the net price calculator at every college on your list separately.

I’d suggest you print the results when you run them, just to save the trouble of trying to keep track of the results.

If your colleges are ones that commit to “meet need”, then your results do sound high. Or you could be making a mistake when entering the data. What is an example of one of your schools?

Also, even if you are referring to the school’s own EFC which may be different from the FAFSA EFC, the net price is typically the school’s EFC plus a student contribution / self-help amount (federal direct loans and/or work study). That is how you get a non-zero net price even if you are clearly in a zero/minimum EFC situation.

Of course, schools with poor financial aid will also have unmet need that is also added to the above categories to get the net price.

Thanks! All this info helped a lot and BTW @intparent the school that gave me around $10,000 was University of Notre Dame and I was really surprised because they’re known for giving pretty good financial aid packages.

They do claim to meet need. You may have done something wrong on the NPC, though. Make sure you aren’t putting parent income and assets down as student’s, for example. Try a few other meets need colleges and see what you get (you can Google for a list).

Actually it is you parents contribution that may be $0 based on their $30K/year income.
Even if the colleges meet full need they all will expect you to contribute towards the Cost of Attendance by working during the year and they may include federal loans in their package. So between your earnings during the school year (Work-study), Summer earnings and the Federal Loan you should expect your contribution to be around 10K. Only the most generous ones will not have loans in their finaid package.

I tried Notre Dame’s NPC with married parents with income of $30,000 and no siblings; it gave a net price of $4,800, of which $2,700 was work study. No loans listed, but the student could use a federal direct loan, work more, or perhaps live frugally to cover the remaining $2,100.

@blourring Do your parents have assets? Do they have other property?

ND does give very good aid for that low of income. But if you like to print out the components the NPC gives you we can explain. ucbalumnus sounds about right. fyi @thumper the Pell is currently 5,775

Notre Dame used to be a Profile school. Maybe that’s the difference.

It sounds like the OP may have entered information incorrectly on the ND net price calculator. Unless there ar significant assets, or the family owns a business or rental properties, the ND net cost for a family income of $30,000 would not be $10,000 a year with loans. Something was entered wrong.


  1. Did you only put your parent income once...and not on the student part.
  2. Did you list retirement account money as savings accounts?

Notre Dame is still a CSS Profile school.

Yeah, my parents have a bit of assets and stuff. Also, the home we currently live in has a pretty high market value because we live in Northern NJ and most homes here are pretty expensive. :confused: I didn’t realize that schools would taken into account the price of the home we’re currently residing in…

Also, what is a Profile school?

Profile school means they use CSS profile in addition to FAFSA for assessing your financial aids. One difference is CSS profile consider the equity value of your primary home as asset (which could be the reason you are seeing higher out of pocket cost) while FAFSA does not.

The schools on,y care about the equity in your home…the value minus any outstanding loans.

Do your parents have an outstanding mortgage on their house?

Oooooh that makes so much sense! And yeah, my parents don’t have any loans on the house. They paid for the full value of it.

Ouch. You need to find out what %age of that equity is being added to your family contribution. This will vary by college. Some schools don’t count your primary home equity at all. Others cap the equity at a certain amount. It is possible,that this large home equity is what is driving that family contribution up.

I do have to ask…and the colleges mig as well. How does a family with a $30,000 income pay the full cash purchase price for a house in northern NJ…that you say is high in value?

Any chance your parents are self employed?

@thumper1 yeah, both of them are self-employed. I don’t know if they paid in cash. They might’ve taken loans and paid them back… I’m not really sure.

And also, I’ve realized that some schools don’t take primary residence into account but others (that I’m applying to) do, unfortunately. :confused:

Both parents are self-employed? What do they do ? Own a restaurant? or what?

Yeah, my parents have a bit of assets and stuff. Also, the home we currently live in has a pretty high market value because we live in Northern NJ and most homes here are pretty expensive.


Oooooh that makes so much sense! And yeah, my parents don’t have any loans on the house. They paid for the full value of it.



I don’t think schools are going to believe that your parents only earn $30k per year.

Either they paid cash and that seems weird with such a low income or they took out a mortgage ad that is also odd with such a low income. I suspect they paid cash.