What is Expected Family Contribution?

Last updated: November 19, 2013 by


The Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, is a measure of how much money you and your family is expected to contribute to your college education based on your financial standing.

Your EFC, which is expressed as a dollar figure, is calculated using a preset formula that takes into consideration family size, number of family members in college, family income, and assets.

This is a very important number that will determine your need and eligibility for aid.

Using that information, the schools will determine your financial need and package your financial aid award accordingly.

Your financial need is the difference between your college costs and your calculated EFC. In laymen term, the lesser the EFC, the more financial aid you’ll be awarded!

The chart below demonstrates how your financial need may differ at different colleges, yet your EFC remains constant. 1

For example, if your EFC is $8,000, and the college costs $15,000 to attend, you may be eligible for $7,000 worth of aid. On the other hand, if college A costs $6,000, you may not be offered financial aid (from college A), since FAFSA indicates you can pay that much out of your own pocket.


Low EPC = More Aid
The lower your EFC, the more likely it is that you will be eligible for need-based aid, such as grants and subsidized federal loans.


High EPC = Less Aid
The higher your EFC, the less aid you’ll get, and the more you’ll pay out-of-pocket. And the more likely it is that you will need to find additional sources of aid that are not based on need, such as merit scholarships, savings, unsubsidized federal loans, or private education loans.


Zero EPC = Maximum Aid
The best case scenario is to get a Zero EFC for maximum aid eligibility. An EFC of $0 means that the family has no ability to pay for college. But to qualify for the Automatic Zero EFC your combined family’s Adjusted Gross Income must be $23,000 or less per year.


Once you know your EPC, it becomes a lot easier to get a realistic idea of the amount of out-of-pocket costs you’ll be expected to contribute to fill the gap between the cost of a school and financial aid you’re entitled to receive.

If you want to have a quick estimate of your EFC, try FinAid’s QuickEFC Calculator or refer to Quick EPC Chart to “guesstimate” yours. 2

Keep in mind that your EFC does not necessarily equal the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor the amount of aid you will receive. It simply is a number used by the schools to calculate the amount of aid you may be eligible to receive. 3


  1. Source: The College Planning Center of Rhode Island – Financial Aid Eligibility []
  2. For a better estimate of the EFC, use FAFSA4Caster. []
  3. Source: www.fafsa.ed.gov []