What is Expected Family Contribution: An Ultimate Overview

Feb 02, 2024 By Susan Kelly


There is a universal expectation that all college students will make some financial contribution to their education. The term "Anticipated Family Contribution" refers to how much of a monetary contribution you and your family will be expected to make (EFC). Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a legal indicator of your financial standing. Your expected family contribution (EFC) is crucial in calculating how much financial aid you may receive. Your EFC is determined by the data you provide on the FAFSA. The calculation considers your family's taxable and nontaxable income, assets, and benefits. The number of people in your family and the percentage of your family that is college-educated are other factors.

What is the Expected Family Contribution(EFC)?

Do you know what is Expected Family Contribution? Your parents' contribution, based on their income and some of their assets, and your contribution, based on your income and some of your assets, make up the expected family contribution. Taxes paid on federal and state income and a percentage of income you are not expected to contribute deducted from your anticipated family contribution (EFC). The financial aid office at your school will reduce your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the school's Cost of Attendance (COA) to determine how much you'll receive in Federal Direct Subsidized Loans, Federal Work-Study, Pell Grants, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.

The financial aid office also uses EFC to determine the appropriate amount of student loans and grants to offer. Brown University, Stanford University, and the University of Pennsylvania are just a few universities that can afford to provide all of their students with the financial aid they require to attend. But a lot of institutions don't. To increase your chances of receiving financial aid, submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and any other necessary forms as soon as feasible.

Say, for example, that the school cannot provide for all of your financial obligations. If so, your loved ones may want to look into federal unsubsidized student loans, private student loans, or Federal PLUS loans for parents of undergraduates, graduate students, and professional students to help cover the difference. If you need additional funding to cover the total amount of your EFC, one or more of these student loan options may be helpful. Getting a private scholarship, starting at a community college, going to school part-time, or delaying college are all viable alternatives. The amount of money you have to pay back may be more important than the prestige of your degree in the long run.

Why Does Your Expected Family Contribution Matter?

When calculating your financial assistance package, colleges look at your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your maximum eligibility for need-based aid is determined by taking the school's entire cost of attendance (tuition, fees, and room and board) and deducting your expected family contribution (EFC). It all comes down to how much money your school has to give out.

Due to annual budget constraints, only some people eligible for a Pell Grant or work-study program receive the total amount to which they are entitled. It is up to the discretion of each institution as to whether or not they will pay the total amount of each student's stated financial Need. Assume you need additional funding. If that's the case, they may recommend taking a direct unsubsidized loan or a federal PLUS loan to cover the difference because they are not based on Need.

How Is EFC Calculated?

Use the information provided on the FAFSA to determine your projected family contribution. Your household's gross income, net income, assets, unemployment, and Social Security benefits are all included. The number of individuals living in your home and children attending college in the upcoming school year is also considered.

Generally, EFCs are lower for larger families and those with multiple college-aged members. An institution-specific methodology is used when calculating your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) at many private and public universities. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) determined by the FAFSA may differ from this amount. How EFC helps you calculate your financial needs is illustrated by the following equation:

  • Financial Need = Total Cost of Attendance - Average Family Contribution

Imagine you want to attend a highly selective private university that charges a whopping $80,000 a year to enroll. Your Expected Family Contribution is estimated to be $12,000. If we take $12,000 off of your total financial requirement, that leaves you with $68,000.


The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a calculated figure that indicates how much money the typical student's family may be expected to put toward their education. This is a voluntary payment, and it doesn't prevent families from donating more; in fact, most families end up contributing more than the EFC estimates. It's just a method the government uses to keep track of students' income and expenses to decide how much aid they should give them. Simply put, a lower Expected Family Contribution (EFC) means less Need for federal financial aid.

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