Sample Financial Aid Case Study

Below is an additional sample case to illustrate how the financial aid formula is used to determine financial aid. This is another generic financial aid package example for conceptual purposes only. See the other Financial Aid Sample Case on this site for additional examples of how financial aid is determined.

SAMPLE CASE: Sammy Student will attend a college in his state of residency. Sammy filed the FAFSA by the stated deadline. The CSS Profile Form was not required.

Cost of Attendance (COA) *

$ 22,200

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)**

$   540

Financial Need

$ 21,660

    Financial Aid Package

         College Grant

$  6,500

         State Grant ***

$  2,000

         Federal Pell Grant ****

$  4,000

         Federal SEOG *****

$  2,000

         Federal Direct Stafford Loan

$  3,500

         Federal Work Study

   $  3,000

     Total Aid Package   


Unmet Need (gap)        

$     660

 Family Responsibility based on COA (EFC + GAP)

$  1,200

 Family Budgeted Amount (Family Responsibility + Additional Needs)     

$  1,200



*COA = $22,200 ($8,050 Tuition, $550 Athletic Fee, $500 Health Insurance Fee, $2,000 Activity Fee $7,500 Room and Board, $1,000 Books and Supplies, $2,000 Personal Expenses, $600 Transportation = $22,200 Total).**Federal Expected Family Contribution (EFC) was determined by filing the FAFSA.Financial Need was determined by subtracting the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the Cost of Attendance(COA).*** Sammy qualified for a state grant by virtue of filing the FAFSA.

**** Sammy qualified for a Pell Grant by virtue of filing the FAFSA. Pell Grant is for high need students.

***** Sammy qualified for a FSEOG by virtue of filing the FAFSA. FSEOG is for the highest need students.

Family Responsibility is determined by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) amount of $540 plus the calculated unmet need (gap) amount of $660.

Family Budgeted Amount is determined by the Family Responsibility amount of $1,200 plus any additional needs. In Sammy’s case, he already owns a laptop, lives in the same state as his intended college, has no medical expenses, and will be purchasing used text books and buying supplies prior to coming to campus. These factors should allow him to stay within the standard student budget provided.

The sample cases on this site were included for the purpose of illustrating the various components taken into consideration when awarding financial aid as well as the additional concepts that families should explore when planning for college.

Families should conduct a similar exercise and analysis using real examples once financial aid award letters have been received. That way, real numbers can be used and your specific situation evaluated accordingly. If a student does have additional needs, those expenses should be taken into consideration when determining a final budget.

For college planning tools and financial aid templates, check out Financial Aid Sense: A Practical Guide About Financial Aid and the College Financing Process. Financial Aid Sense is packed with planning templates, action item lists, sample cases, a glossary and  much much more. A great tool for your college financing journey!

For more Financial Aid 101, click here!

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Jan Marie Combs, EzineArticles Basic Author