Paying For School

How is Eligibility Determined?

How Is Eligibility Determined?

Learn more about how colleges determine and offer financial aid.

How do colleges determine financial aid?

Colleges base financial aid eligibility on the following equation:

Cost of Attendance (COA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need (Financial Aid Eligibility)

What is the cost of attendance (COA)?

The Cost of Attendance is also known as the "Student Budget." It includes almost everything related to college expenses for one academic year. These include:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Books and supplies
  • Transportation
  • Miscellaneous educational expenses

What is the expected family contribution (EFC)?

The EFC is based on the information you and/or your parents provide on the FAFSA form. It determines the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive.

What is financial need?

Financial need is the difference between the Cost of Attendance and the Expected Family Contribution. The government bases the amount of aid you receive on your financial need. 

You can still receive non-need-based financial aid if you have no financial need. This aid includes scholarships or Federal Unsubsidized Direct Stafford loans. Financial Need will vary from school to school. 

Will outside funding affect my financial aid award?

Your total Financial Aid package includes money from the:

  • Federal government
  • State Grant agency
  • College
  • Outside resources

Your total Financial Aid package cannot exceed your Cost of Attendance (COA). Other types of funding may reduce your eligibility for federal and state financial aid.

Any outside resource you receive will determine the types and amounts of financial aid. Some common outside resources include:

  • Certificate of Residency
  • Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)
  • Scholarships
  • Employer reimbursement/tuition assistance
  • Trade Act or TRDW sponsorship

Complete the Net Price Calculator to receive an estimate of your eligible grants.