Expected Family Contribution Calculator

Get an early start on the financial aid process by using our Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator. This tool will help you understand what the college might expect your family to contribute to the cost of college, which allows you to begin making a plan for how to pay for college. The results are only an approximation of the Federal EFC figure that is calculated when you file the FAFSA.

Here is the formula: Cost of College – the EFC = Financial Need

The cost of college includes your direct costs of tuition, fees, residence hall, food but also travel, books and estimated other costs.

The EFC is the Expected Family Contribution, which is derived when you complete the FAFSA.

Financial need is the difference between the cost and the Expected Family Contribution. Colleges try to meet your financial need through a combination of  “gift aid” (grants and scholarships), work-study and student loans. Colleges are required to use the results of the FAFSA for awarding federal aid. However, some selective colleges may use an additional form, the CSS PROFILE, for awarding their institutional aid.


MYTH – There is an income limit for getting aid from the FAFSA.

  School A (Out of State University) School B (In State University) School C (Community College)
Cost $65,000 $25,000 $12,000
EFC sample: family of 4 with 1 in college,
AGI $100,000 and assets of $50,000
$15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Financial Need $40,000 $10,000 $0

*The higher the cost of college, the higher your need.



The best way to determine what a college may really cost is to find out the net price for that college. This is often much less than the published price.

Take advantage of the Net Price or True Cost Calculator on the websites of the colleges that interest you. These will help you estimate the financial aid and scholarships available to you. Use the Education Trust’s College Results Online to help you compare colleges.