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Why You Should Know Your EFC

Last week I wrote a post about understanding the difference between net price and sticker price. Today, I wanted to carry the financial torch a bit further by talking about EFC.

EFC? What’s that you say? Another acronym?

Yup. The world of college admissions and financial aid is full of them.

EFC stands for expected family contribution. It is the amount of money you will be expected to contribute towards one year of your college costs. While it won’t paint the entire picture for you, it will serve as a starting point before you venture into how generous a school is with their aid. You won’t know your official EFC until after you’ve completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and, in my opinion, this is too late. You can’t fill out the FAFSA until after January 1st of the student’s senior year when decisions on where you are applying have already been made.

Rather, you should know your EFC before you start getting too deep into looking at colleges.

Parents of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, I’m talking to you.

For example, let’s say your EFC is $25,000. If you are looking at a college where the cost of attendance is $55,000 you can immediately see that you will be hoping to get $30,000 in aid. Conversely, if the college’s cost of attendance is $30,000, you shouldn’t be expecting much of anything outside of the basic student loan.

In the case of the former, $30,000 is a big difference to make up. The next step is to understand just how generous a school is and if they are going to help you out. Typically, the biggest factor in whether or not a college is going to offer you a financial aid package that meets your need is how competitive you are as an applicant.

Do yourself a favor and obtain your estimated EFC now. Write it down, understand it and use it when you are researching schools and want to know what a school is going to cost you.

If you have questions or would like some help figuring out how to reduce the cost of college, use the comment box below or email me directly at I would love to hear from you!

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