While narrowing down your college list finances tends to be an important consideration.  How do you take this into consideration before receiving your financial aid package in the spring?

The first step is calculating your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  This will tell you what the college will expect you can pay out of pocket. Subtract that amount from the total cost of the college you’re interested in and that will give you your need base.

Then you have to find out the average (note that this is average and not an exact amount that you will be awarded) percentage of need base aid that the individual college awards.  The amount left after this will still need to be covered.


College A: $85,000                  College B: $45,000

EFC: $15,000                            EFC: $15,000

Need Base Aid: 80%                Need Based Aid: 70%

$85,000                                      $45,000
-$15,000                                     – $15,000 
$70,000                                      $30,000

80% of $70,000=                    70% of $30,000=
$56,000                                     $21,000

$70,000                                      $30,000
-$56,000                                    -$21,000
   $14,000                                       $9,000
+$15,000 (EFC)                       +$15,000 (EFC)
$29,000                                       $24,000              – Total amount at each school you will have to cover

Notice that even with a slightly lower percentage of need based aid covered the less expensive school still saves money.  The total cost is an important factor as well as the amount of need based and merit aid that a school rewards.  All of these factors have to be taken into consideration while approaching college decisions.


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