Both the College and the federal government believe that each family should contribute what they can toward college costs.
This amount is often referred to as the “expected family contribution” (EFC) and is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This EFC is not a literal figure, so it does not reflect the amount you will actually need to pay.
If your expected family contribution is less than the cost of one year of college, you have “financial need” and may qualify for “need-based” financial aid. Here is a simple equation to demonstrate:
Cost of School - Family Contribution = Financial Need
Need-based financial aid is available in three categories, described below. Other details are found by clicking the link.
“Free money” that does not have to be repaid.
Money borrowed by the student or parent, repaid over several years.
Money earned by working part-time during the year, usually on campus.