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

COA: Cost of Attendance

The Cost of Attendance (COA) is an estimated allowance for the cost of tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board, transportation and loan fees during periods in which you are enrolled in classes.

EFC: Expected Family Contribution

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

The Office of Financial Aid attempts to meet students' need for financial aid by packaging (or awarding) financial 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; and
  • 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, let’s assume a student's COA is $13,396 and EFC is $0.

$13,396 (COA) - $0 (EFC) = $13,396 (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 in order to meet the calculated Financial Need of $13,396. 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:

  • $6,495 - Federal Pell Grant
  • $800 - Federal SEOG
  • $3,500 - Subsidized Direct Loan
  • $2,601 - Unsubsidized Direct Loan
  • $13,396 - 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 the Fall and Winter semesters, if a student plans to attend the Summer semester and they complete an HFC Summer Financial Aid Application, any funding for which they are still eligible will be awarded to them for the Summer semester.

NOTE: Since the Office of Financial Aid normally awards students their full loan eligibility for the Fall and Winter semesters, a student may not have any loan eligibility remaining for the Summer semester. If you know you plan to be enrolled during the Summer semester and are concerned about having loans available for the Summer semester, 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 the Summer semester. Otherwise, you should plan accordingly by saving a portion of your Fall and Winter loan funds to assist in paying the Summer semester tuition, fees and book charges.

Other factors that may affect a student's financial aid award include classes which are less than a full semester (or award period) in length. For example, during the Fall and Winter semesters, HFC offers many courses which are 8 weeks and 12 weeks in length. Standard or “regular” classes during the Fall and Winter semesters meet for 16 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 semester begins the last week of August. If a student is only enrolled in 8-week classes that do not begin until mid-October, then financial aid funds will not be disbursed for those late starting classes until on or after those classes start.