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Calculated Need & Expected Family Contribution

The information you report on the CSS Profile and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to estimate your family's financial strength and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is an estimate of the amount you and your family are expected to contribute to your annual educational expenses. Those funds may come from current income, savings and/or family borrowing.

Your financial need is then calculated by subtracting your Expected Family Contribution from your total cost of attendance.

Cost of Attendance - EFC = Financial Need

The total amount of your need-based aid cannot exceed your calculated financial need.

Eligibility Considerations

Your Expected Family Contribution is used in determining your eligibility for a variety of different financial aid awards.

  • Eligibility for need-based DU scholarships

    Eligibility for DU need-based aid is determined with information from the CSS Profile and CSS Institutional Methodology calculations, with some school-specific modifications. These calculations are proven to give a fair and reasonable assessment of a family's financial strength.

    Family income is one of several factors considered. Other factors include the number of household members, the number of siblings or certain other household members attending college as undergraduates, and the financial assets of both students and parents. The DU calculation of total income usually excludes certain losses and includes certain types of tax-deferred income.

    The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) consists of...
    • A parental contribution, calculated from income and assets.
    • 25 percent of the student's accumulated savings and other assets.
    • A minimum contribution from student earnings, usually from summer employment (new dependent students = $1,800; current dependent students = $2,400; independent students = $3,300).


    Use our Quick Cost Estimator or Net Price Calculator to help you estimate how much your family will be expected to pay.

  • Eligibility for federal aid

    Eligibility for federal financial aid is determined with the information from the FAFSA and federally legislated formulas. There is no minimum student contribution (EFC) in the federal calculation.

    Once your FAFSA is complete and processed by the Department of Education, you'll receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). Your federal EFC will be displayed in the upper right-hand corner of your SAR, which is used to calculate your eligibility for federal grants.

  • Eligibility for renewal of aid

    If your financial need has not changed substantially and you meet all other eligibility criteria, you can expect your aid to be renewed in subsequent years.

    However, changes in your family's financial circumstances, such as income or the number of household members attending college, will affect your need and eligibility for need-based aid. Since the number of children in college substantially reduces the EFC for each child, changes in this number will usually significantly affect the amount of financial aid awarded.

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