College Search - Enter a College Below:

Awarding Financial Aid

Once the aid officer at the school or schools you apply to has calculated your financial need, his or her goal is to create a package of financial aid awards that together add up to “need” amount.

There are three main "types" of financial aid:

In addition to these main categories of financial aid, specific aid programs can be need based or non-need based.

  • Need based financial aid programs require a student to demonstrate financial need. You must prove to the school(s) that you need help paying for school. The FAFSA and Profile forms help you demonstrate this.
  • Non-need based programs can be awarded to students even when there is no calculated need – that is, the student's EFC (or combination of EFC and awarded financial aid) equals or exceeds the cost of attendance

The amount of each award is based on a myriad of factors including, but no limited to: institutional or regulatory policies for minimum and maximum amounts, amount of funds available to the institution, and eligibility of the applicant.

Here are some sample situations that will help explain how financial aid awards work. First lets examine example expenses for one public college and one private college, then we'll look at how two different families cope with paying for these two schools:

Sample Situations:

   

Private College:

Public College:

Cost Amount
Tuition & Fees $22,500
Room and Board 7,500
Books 2,000
Transportation 2,500
Miscellaneous 1,000
TOTAL $35,500
Cost Amount
Tuition & Fees $ 5,000
Room and Board 2,000
Books 750
Transportation 1,250
Miscellaneous 1,000
TOTAL $10,000

Your need is calculated by looking at the Cost of Attendance (COA) for each school and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your need is the Cost of Attendance minus your Expected Family Contribution. To put it simply:

  • Need = COA - EFC

Family Examples: Here are the two families we're going to use to use with the colleges listed above:

Family 1 has $15,000 EFC

  • $35,500 COA -- Family 1 EFC of $15,000 = $20,500 Need for financial aid at high priced, private college
  • 10,000 COA -- Family 1 EFC of $15,000 = NO NEED for financial aid at lower priced, public college

Family 2 has $1,000 EFC

  • $35,500 COA -- Family 2 EFC of $1,000 = $34,500 Need for Financial aid at high priced, private college
  • 10,000 COA -- Family 2 EFC of $1,000 = 9,000 Need for financial aid at lower priced, public college

Sample Awards: Now let's examine the awards that are two families are given by the public and private college, and how the families can meet their financial need.

Family 1 - Private College Example

(Assumes student is a first year undergraduate student):

Aid Program Amount
Institutional Scholarship $10,000
Work Study 2,000
Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan 2,625
Federal PLUS or Alternative Loan 5,875
TOTAL $20,500

Family 1 Public College (assumes student is a first year student):

Aid Program Amount
Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan $2,625
TOTAL $2,625

*The unsubsidized loan can replace some of the family contribution even when there is no need. The PLUS loan is also available to families without need to replace some of the EFC you are expected to be able to pay.

Family 2 Private College

Aid Program Amount
Institutional Scholarship $15,000
State Funded Scholarship 2,000
Private Scholarship 3,000
Federal Pell Grant 1,500
Federal SEOG 1,000
Work Study 2,000
Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan 2,625
Federal Perkins Loan 2,000
TOTAL $29,125

*A PLUS loan or private student loan can be used to make up the difference between the total cost and amount of aid listed above if there are no personal savings available.

Family 2 Public College

Aid Program Amount
State Funded Scholarship $1,500
Federal Pell Grant 1,500
Federal SEOG 1,000
Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan 2,625
Federal Perkins Loan 2,000
TOTAL $8,625

Based on the examples above, you should have a better understanding of how it all comes together. Now, continue on to our Financial Aid Calendar to learn more about when all this takes place...