Free Application for Federal Student Aid estimated family contribution tables are tools that help students and parents calculate how much college financial aid a student may obtain and how much the family may be expected to pay, reports Forbes. The tables only allow rough estimates and do not include all the financial factors colleges consider when allocating aid. Students do not obtain precise figures of offered aid until they receive official financial aid award letters from individual schools.
Federal law establishes a formula for calculating expected family contribution based on a family's income, benefits and assets, explains Federal Student Aid. Other factors include the size of the household and how many family members attend career school or college. To determine the amount of aid a student receives, a college subtracts the expected family contribution from the cost of attending the college. This includes tuition, accommodation, fees, books and other necessary expenses. Other costs may include childcare or special expenses for disabilities.
If parents have more than one child in college, the federal formula shares their part of the expected family contribution equally among their college-bound children, according to Forbes. Students may be eligible for aid at some colleges but not at others depending on the total cost of attendance. Because the colleges decide the makeup of the aid packages, some students with equal expected family contributions may receive more lucrative aid offers than others, depending on the colleges' assessments of the students' desirability from the perspective of the college admissions office.