Federal student financial aid is dependent on a number of factors, including the expected family contribution, year in school, enrollment status, and a particular school's cost of attendance. Each school's financial aid office determines how much financial aid a student is eligible to receive.
After calculating the cost of attendance, each school considers the student's , EFC, which is then subtracted from the COA to determine the amount of financial need.
The COA includes but is not limited to tuition and fees; room and board or off-campus living expenses; books and supplies; transportation; and an allowance for child care or other dependent care. Establishing the EFC uses a legal formula that looks at a family's taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits, such as unemployment or Social Security. The U.S. Department of Education provides a detailed guide to show how an EFC is calculated on its website, StudentAid.ed.gov.