The quickest route to a better life economically is with a quality education, and with the current economic status, this makes EFC tables and data very important. EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution and applies to student financial aid applications. In the United States, there are several programs geared toward paying for a college education, the federal Pell Grant being the most popular. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) uses the numbers generated by the EFC table to determine the amount of aid you can receive from a Pell Grant.
Understanding EFC Tables
An EFC calculator is a program where several different bits of information are input to determine how much aid you and your family could expect to receive. Family income, assets, number in family and the number of people from your family in college will all play a role in determining your Expected Family Contribution. This number can range anywhere from zero contribution to complete family contribution. One important thing to remember is that the cost of where you attend college will not come into the calculations. You will be awarded the same amount of aid whether the school charges $5,000 or $25,000 per semester.
One factor other than income levels that will greatly affect the figures from the EFC tables and data is your status as a student. If you are a dependent student, your parents' income will have to be taken into account when figuring your financial aid eligibility. Most of the time you will be better served if you are classified as an independent student. An independent student is generally categorized by the following criteria:
- 23 or older
- Married as of date of application
- Serving in armed forces
- Veteran of armed forces
- Student deprived after age of 13 of both parents due to death, foster care or ward of the court status
- Emancipated minor
- Fits any one of several homeless youth statuses
- Determined independent due to special circumstances (assessed by FAA)
Automatic Zero Contribution
Some students will automatically qualify for zero contribution. This applies to both dependent and independent students. In this situation, students or their parents must meet two very specific criteria.
Dependent: Parents received other federal public assistance, SSI, food stamps, TANF, free or reduced price school lunch or WIC, are eligible to file a 1040a or 1040ez, or qualify as a dislocated worker. In addition, they must have an adjusted gross income of $30,000 or less.
Independent: When a student with dependents meets the same criteria as above, the EPC is automatically calculated at zero. It is important to note that independent students with no dependents other than a spouse do not qualify for the automatic zero contribution.
EFC Tables and Data
Where to Find Data
There are many places online that offer free EFC tables and data estimators. These are simply estimations and while very close, they can be misleading. The best place to find a table for calculations is through the official website for federal student aid. You can tell this Internet site from unofficial sites by the URL; within the address will be .ed.gov, designating it as a government website. Your first step, of course, is filling out your FAFSA online.
There are many students struggling to get through college who could benefit from financial aid. In many cases, the only reason they are not receiving aid is because they failed to apply for grants. Of the students that do apply, the vast majority are approved for at least some financial aid, and with all the deductions and allowances made with the EFC tables, many times the amount of aid is substantial.
Receiving a high school diploma is something you should be proud of; however, do not let your education stop there. College is a very important part of creating a better financial life for you and your family. Statistics show that college graduates can expect to earn significantly more over a lifetime than high school graduates, approximately a million dollars more! The higher your education goes, the more money you can expect to earn over a lifetime. For example, a professional degree will net you a cool $4.4 million dollars.
Too often students fail to apply for financial aid because they feel they will not qualify for one reason or the other. When they graduate, they are heavily in debt with student loans. Many times, you can achieve a full college education with few if any loans by using various forms of financial assistance.