The federal Department of Education determines your Expected Family ContributionThe Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount of money that the family is expected to be able to contribute toward the student's education as determined by the Federal Methodology need analysis formula. The EFC includes the parent contribution and the student contribution, and depends on the student's dependency status, family size, number of family members in school, taxable and nontaxable income, and assets. The difference between the COA and the EFC is the student's financial need, and is used in determining the student's eligibility for need-based financial aid. If there are unusual financial circumstances, such as high medical expenses, loss of employment, or death of a parent, that may affect your ability to pay for your education, the student needs to tell their financial aid administrator (FAA). He or she can adjust the COA or EFC to compensate. (EFC) based on information you provide on the FAFSA. Parent and student resources are considered the first source of funds to finance an education. Parents' incomeIncome is the amount of money received from employment (salary, wages, tips), profit from financial instruments (interest, dividends, capital gains), or other sources (welfare, disability, child support, taxable Social Security, and pensions). is not included in the EFC for an independent studentSee Dependency Status. Financial needThe difference between the COA and the EFC is the student's financial need - the gap between the cost of attending the school and the student's resources. The financial aid package is based on the amount of financial need. The process of determining a student's need is known as need analysis. is the difference between the cost of attendance (COA ) and the EFC. Each university determines its own COA , which includes the average cost of tuition, books, room and board, and personal and travel expenses. If your COA is $18,506 and your EFC is $5,000, the financial need would be $13,506. Student Financial AidMoney provided to the student and the family to help them pay for the student's education. Major forms of financial aid include gift aid (grants and scholarships) and self help aid (loans and work). and Scholarships will review your eligibility for need-basedFinancial aid that is need-based depends on your financial situation. Most government sources of financial aid are need-based. programs up to the amount of your financial need, then review your eligibility for aid programs that are not based on need up to the amount of your COA . Your eligibility for need-based aid ($13,506 in the example) is not a guarantee that you will receive that amount.