Financial Aid 101

Highlighted on this site is information on the necessary steps to take to apply for financial aid, a summary of the types of financial aid programs available, and some action items and money saving tips to keep in mind when planning for college. In addition, this section will provide a general overview, or “Financial Aid 101”, of how financial aid is determined in general. A federal needs analysis formula, entitled Federal Methodology, is used and is the basis for determining financial aid eligibility. Two central components of determining aid eligibility are outlined in detail on this site: the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) amount and the Cost of Attendance (COA) figure.

Although these financial aid concepts can be confusing, much light can be shed on these topics simply by breaking down the financial aid needs analysis process in a straight forward manner. This site is filled with a lot of information, somewhat complicated, but all of the topics are woven together and so closely related that it makes sense to profile them all together and organized into sub-pages.  Read on!

DETERMINING FINANCIAL NEED: The college financial aid office is responsible for awarding  financial aid by means of a standardized federal needs analysis system that takes into consideration the Cost of Attendance (COA) at a college and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of a family. The difference between these two figures is the student’s “financial need”, a stated value that determines the maximum amount of need-based financial aid that the student can be awarded. An overview of these elements, and more, will provide a better understanding of how financial aid is awarded by the colleges. Check out each of the categories below:

Federal Methodology

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Cost of Attendance (COA)

Determining Need for Financial Aid Funds

Financial Aid Case Study 1

Sample Financial Aid Case Study 2

For detailed case studies illustrating these points as well as other college financing related resources, check out this newly updated financial aid publication ~ Financial Aid Sense.

"Financial Aid resource guide"


Jan Marie Combs, EzineArticles Basic Author