Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is in theory a measure of a family’s ability to contribute towards a student’s cost of attendance (COA), calculated according to a formula established by law. It is more realistically a rationing tool that compares the relative financial strengths of all families applying for aid. It is one component of the need formula: COA – EFC = Need. The EFC formula, which is defined in law by Congress, considers a family's taxed and untaxed income, assets, size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year.

The law prohibits ED from regulating any aspect of need analysis, including expected family contribution. See Subtopics for other related regulations.

Related terms: Need Analysis; Cost of Attendance; Professional Judgment