The Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, number is provided by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid when a person applies for federal student aid. It notifies a college student's family of the amount of federal aid for which the student is eligible, according to FAFSA.
It is important to distinguish between the amount a family owes for tuition and fees associated with a college education and the amount of aid the student is eligible to receive, explains FAFSA. The EFC is not a number used to calculate payments. That number is determined by the institution the student attends, and it amounts to the cost of tuition and fees minus the federal aid credited to the student's financial aid account with that institution.
The EFC is calculated using information regarding the family's income, size and assets, according to FAFSA. Families can calculate an estimated EFC number using free online calculators, such as the Quick EFC Calculator available from FinAid. As of 2015, more detailed information is available in the booklet titled "EFC (Expected Family Contribution) Formula," which is accessible on the website of the U.S. Department of Education's office of Federal Student Aid, under the Resources section.