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How Aid Is Determined

When you file your FAFSA, the federal processor will consider the information you reported regarding your household income and assets, the number of people and the number of college students in your household, etc. The result of the FAFSA process will be a figure referred to as the Expected Family Contribution or EFC.

Your EFC is not the amount that your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid that you will receive. The EFC is a tool that financial aid professionals will use to determine your eligibility for need-based aid such as Pell Grant and subsidized loans.

FAFSA provides a tool that will allow high school juniors and seniors to estimate their EFC for the next academic aid year. This tool is called the FAFSA4caster. To access this tool, visit and select the "Considering School" tab; "Estimate Your Aid"; then FAFSA4caster. This tool will allow you to estimate your EFC using your prior year tax returns and household income and asset information. 

The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, based on federal guidelines, uses a formula to determine eligibility for need–based aid. The formula is as follows:

  1. The cost of attendance (the average cost for a student to attend Ferris State) minus the EFC, equals need. There are other considerations when determining the awarding of aid such as availability of funds and enrollment status.
  2. A financial aid award package will be offered to admitted students who have a valid FAFSA on file and have completed any required documentation that may have been requested. The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will offer each student the best financial aid award package possible within the provisions of federal, state and university financial aid policies.
  3. The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, based on federal guidelines, must adjust a student’s financial aid award package if outside resources such as local or state scholarships, veteran’s benefits, rehabilitation benefits, etc., change the student’s need–based aid eligibility.

For more information regarding how federal financial aid is awarded, please visit