Written by: Guest Contributor College is a big expense, and saving for it can be…
How important is it to reduce your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)? What if you already know that you or your student will be receiving a merit scholarship that will far exceed any need-based financial aid? Though it is possible that a high merit scholarship may eliminate your eligibility for any need-based financial aid, it is still very important to keep your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as low as possible.
A low EFC can be a way of protecting yourself from these and other uncertainties:
1. Your merit scholarship may not be renewed each year.
Each year, students lose their merit scholarships. This happens for a variety of reasons. Merit scholarships require specific grade point averages be maintained. Athletic or art scholarships may also be performance based.
In addition, not all merit scholarships are meant to be given each year. Make sure you know all the details regarding your merit scholarships.
If you or your student loses your merit scholarship, a low EFC becomes incredibly important.
2. With more than one student in school at the same time. need-based financial aid often exceeds the scholarship amount.
EFC can be reduced as much as 50% when there is more than one student in school at the same time. Missing this additional need-based aid can be costly for families.
3. There is no merit aid offered at most top-tier universities.
If you or your student enters a top-tier university that uses the Institutional Methodology, there is often no merit aid available. The only financial aid you will get is need-based. So, it is critical to middle- and upper-middle-income families to keep their EFC as low as possible.
Though you may not be eligible for financial aid in the current academic year, you may be eligible for a lot of financial aid in the future. Even families with incomes in excess of $200,000 may be eligible for financial aid at some point.
4. Transfer scholarships are usually much less than regular scholarships.
If you or your student transfers to another school, scholarships are likely lower than one given to an incoming freshmen. The difference in your family’s financial need, determined by your EFC, can mean more grants.
5. Changes in family circumstances can make you eligible for more need-based financial aid.
We all know that life can be full of surprises. A sudden lay-off—a pandemic—for example, could make you eligible for more aid. The lower the EFC, the more financial aid.
And remember, it is never too late to review your situation. Even if you didn’t use cost saving strategies from the beginning, there is still time to check out what you can do for the future.
To learn more about lowering your EFC, contact us at My College Planning Team.