The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measure of your family's financial strength and indicates how much of your and your family's financial resources (for dependent students) should be available to help pay for your education. The U.S. Department of Education uses a need analysis formula set by Congress, along with the information reported on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to calculate your EFC using a analysis called Federal Methodology (FM). Your family's income (taxable and untaxed), assets and benefits are all considered in determining your EFC. Your family size and the number of family members who will be attending college are also considered. The Federal Methodology computes both a Parent Contribution (PC) and a Student Contribution (SC). The Parent Contribution is added to the Student Contribution to arrive at the Expected Family Contribution. Your EFC will appear on the Student Aid Report (SAR) you receive after you file your FAFSA. Your EFC is calculated independently from the school you attend/apply to and generally should not change.
Your Expected Family Contribution is not the amount that your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid that you will receive. Your Expected Family Contribution is not intended to represent a minimum or maximum dollar amount that the student and family are required to pay. It is a number for the school to use to determine your eligibility for federal student aid programs and to calculate the amount that your family will be expected to pay for college.
Some colleges use a need analysis formula called Institutional Methodology (IM). The individual school's IM is used to determine eligibility for their institutional funds only, not federal student aid. Each institution has its own policy to determine financial aid eligibility for institutional funds, so financial aid eligibility may vary from school to school.