Calculating Your Financial Need

There is a general formula which the Office of Financial Aid uses to calculate the amount of aid for which each student may qualify:

Cost of Attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Need for Financial Aid

The EFC is calculated by the U.S. Department of Education using the data you report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The EFC is the amount that a student and his/her family are expected to be able to contribute toward his/her educational expenses.

The Office of Financial Aid attempts to meet your need for financial aid by packaging (or awarding) aid from different sources. Decisions about which programs are offered may be based on such factors as:

  • The number of credit hours taken during the enrollment period
  • Family circumstances
  • Degree of financial need
  • Your preferences as to types of assistance
  • Availability of funds

Students who have the greatest degree of financial need may receive grants, loans, and work-study (employment). Students with lesser degrees of financial need may only be offered loans or work-study. As all financial aid funding is limited and formula-driven, what is perceived as a need for assistance may not be what is offered. The Office of Financial Aid does its best to make available a base of financial aid assistance which will enable students to attend classes leading to their educational goals.

For example purposes only, let’s assume your Cost of Attendance is $16,040 and your EFC is $0.

$16,040 (COA) - $0 (EFC) = $16,040 (Need for Financial Aid)

Once financial need is determined, the Office of Financial Aid will work to identify programs a student is interested in and qualified for to meet the calculated Financial Need of $16,040. For purposes of this example let’s assume that the student wishes to receive grants, loans, and work-study. The Financial Aid might be awarded as:

  • $ 5,775 - Federal Pell Grant
  • $ 800 - Federal SEOG
  • $ 4,000 - Federal Work Study
  • $ 3,500 - Subsidized Direct Loan
  • $ 1,965 - Unsubsidized Direct Loan
  • $ 16,040 - TOTAL Award Amount

These amounts represent the total amount for an entire award year, and are typically split between the Fall and Winter semesters. Since students are normally awarded their full eligibility for Fall and Winter, if a student plans to attend Spring/Summer and they complete an HFC Spring/Summer Financial Aid Application, any funding for which they are still eligible will be awarded to them for Spring/Summer.

Note: Since the Office of Financial Aid normally awards students their full eligibility for Fall and Winter, a student may not have any financial aid eligibility remaining for Spring/Summer. If you know you plan to be enrolled during Spring/Summer and are concerned about having financial aid funding available for Spring/Summer, please contact the Office of Financial Aid, as you may be able to defer some of your Fall or Winter Federal Direct Loan eligibility until Spring/Summer. Otherwise, you should plan accordingly by saving a portion of your Fall and Winter financial aid refunds to assist in paying Spring/Summer tuition, fees, and book charges.

Other factors that may affect a student's award include classes which are less than a full semester (or award period) in length. For example, during the Fall and Winter semesters, the college offers many courses which are eight weeks and twelve weeks in length. “Regular” classes during the Fall and Winter semesters meet for sixteen weeks. The timing of when such non-standard courses begin and end affects the timing of any potential release of excess financial aid funds to you. For example, the Fall 2015 semester begins August 27, 2015. If only enrolled in eight week classes that do not begin until October 22, 2015 then financial aid funds will not be disbursed for those late starting classes until on or after October 22, 2015, (after those classes start).