Paying For School

How Is Eligibility Determined?

Learn more about how colleges determine and offer financial aid.


How do colleges determine financial aid?

Colleges based financial aid eligibility for 23-24 on the following equation:
Cost of Attendance (COA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need (Financial Aid Eligibility)

Colleges based financial aid eligibility for 24-25 on the following equation:
Cost of Attendance (COA) - Student Aid Index (SAI) = 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 student aid index (SAI)?

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is an eligibility index number that your college’s or career school’s financial aid office uses to determine how much federal student aid you would receive if you attended the school.


What is financial need?

Financial aid need is determined by comparing the difference between Cost of Attendance and the Student Aid Index. This number results from the information that you provide on your FAFSA® form. This number is not a dollar amount of aid eligibility or what your family is expected to provide. A negative SAI indicates the student has a higher financial need.


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.