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# FAFSA & EFC question

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From the FAFSA website: "Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your school to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive."

But all over the web I'm reading that the EFC is the dollar amount parents are expected to contribute for their child's college education. What's the scoop here??

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I think it must mean that the school subtracts EFC from the total cost to determine how much the student is eligible to receive in financial aid. IOW, the EFC is *used* to calculate the amount of student aid. It isn't the amount of student aid.

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I was wondering the same thing and was confused.

Sylvia

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Yes, everything I've read says that the amount of aid for which the student is eligible is calculated by subtracting the EFC from the total cost:

Total cost (\$) minus EFC = financial need (\$)

So it would seem that the EFC *must* be a dollar amount, wouldn't it?

We completed our FAFSA, and *if* our EFC really is the dollar amount we'll be expected to contribute towards ds's college, I'm worried, because it's WAY more than we could hope to afford! I think I read somewhere that the EFC can range from 0 to 99,999. Is that correct? I keep hearing/reading about people whose EFC is 0, and I had expected ours to be close to that, but it's not. Dh is a bi-vocational minister (IOW he's considered self-employed for tax purposes) and apparently that hurts us when it comes to the FAFSA & EFC because although he receives no salary from our church, he does receive a housing allowance, which is counted as income.

I really haven't been concerned about this until now because I was so sure that scholarships and such would cover ds's college costs -- but now I'm starting to get scared.

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Ereks Mom --

Yes, I agree. The EFC can come up with truly scary numbers. Are we supposed to sell our house to pay for college tuition?

As an encouragement, I just want to mention that there is a lot of merit aid out there, especially if you apply to not-top-tier schools.

My ds is a senior and he is applying to a VERY strange list of schools. After telling a college prof friend of mine the list of schools, she asked HOW we came up with the list. Our answer was quite simple -- one dream school (that does give some merit aid, though not much) and several schools that give generous amounts of merit aid. If we had a money tree in the back yard, his list of colleges would look VERY different.

Best wishes -- senior year is stressful enough without having to think about merit aid and scholarships etc. Most of the time I remember that God loves my son far more than I do, and He has a wonderful plan for my son, but occasionally I lose track of that thought!

BTW, my dd went to her not-top-choice school because it gave her a full-tuition scholarship, and she is having a WONDERFUL time. She has even said that she would choose this school as her first choice if she could do it all over again.

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Thanks, Gwen. It helps me to know there are others who've BTDT.

Ds applied to only two schools, and he is very torn between the two. Both of them are small (approx. 1000 students) private (read: expensive!) Christian colleges in our state. Both offered ds merit scholarships (based solely on SAT/ACT scores) that will cover about 1/3 of his tuition, room & board.

Based on ds's GPA & test scores, one school has also offered him the opportunity to compete for a full-ride scholarship. We filled out more paperwork and submitted a letter of recommendation & an essay, and ds will go for an interview next weekend. The other school, though, has no competitive scholarship program; they base almost all of their scholarships on need rather than merit.

From what I've seen so far, it seems that the merit scholarship programs are actually more straightforward and, well, fair (for lack of a better word) because the formulas for the need-based scholarships just seem to have no real rhyme nor reason. In spite of our low income, it appears from our EFC that ds would actually have a better chance of being awarded a merit scholarship than a needs-based scholarship.

Of course, the school ds is leaning toward is the one that does NOT have a scholarship competition!

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Thank you for starting this post - it is very informative.

Mary