affordable college planning

If you’re worried about the high cost of college and wonder how you are going to pay for it, here is the most important formula you’ll ever use to determine the formula for affordable college planning. The formula is:

Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC) equals Financial Need.

Your Cost of Attendance (COA) is the tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, any personal expenses and travel required for your student each year.

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount that you are “expected” to contribute toward the cost of college. This is how much the government thinks you can afford to contribute. This is used to determine a student’s eligibility for federal and in most cases state-funded student aid. To determine this amount, a family’s income (i.e., parents and student), assets and other relevant variables are all taken into account. This information is then used to determine the EFC, which is submitted on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.

The resulting Financial Need is determined by subtracting your EFC from the COA of the school you are considering. This determines whether or not you are a candidate for financial aid. If the COA is greater than your EFC, you are a candidate for need-based financial aid. If it isn’t, then you won’t qualify.

Depending on whether or not you are a candidate for financial aid provides the stimulus to developing an effective college savings/funding plan with the goal to help reduce the burden of college costs. We will talk more about utilizing this formula in our next blog. If you have immediate questions, call Mooney Lyons Financial Services at 847-382-2600 for more information or visit our website dedicated to college planning at


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