Determining Need

Discovering your financial need and eligibility for aid funds involves a two-step process: establishing student budgets and calculating Expected Family Contributions (EFCs) based on FAFSA data. Appeals can be made regarding variations from standard budgets or significant changes in family income through the Financial Aid Office.

First, we establish an appropriate budget for each group of students. Then an expected family contribution (EFC) is calculated based on the financial information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The difference between the budget and the EFC determines the financial need that the University attempts to meet.


Student budgets consist of two major components: living costs and direct educational costs (see tables). The educational costs are highly predictable with little variation among students enrolled in the same program. Standard budgets are used for living costs. These budgets are modest but adequate. Although the breakdown of living costs as itemized in the budget table may not exactly match your actual expenses, the total monthly amount is used in determining needs. You should use the budget table as a guideline for your personal spending patterns.

Expected Family Contribution

The expected family contribution toward meeting the costs of an education is calculated by the federal processor using a formula developed by federal, state, and institutional associations and approved by Congress.

The following principles underlie this calculation

  • The primary responsibility for paying for education rests with you and your family.
  • The formula estimates the ability (not the willingness) of your family to contribute.

Most offers of aid are in response to demonstrated financial need. Although academic achievement or potential may be considerations, these are usually secondary criteria.


You have the right to appeal if your costs vary significantly from the published budget. In most cases, requests for different student budgets cannot be honored. You also have the right to appeal the calculation of your total family contribution, if there has been, or will be, a drastic change in family income. These appeals should be written and presented to the Financial Aid Office on a Professional Judgment form available at the front counter.