How is Demonstrated Financial Need Determined?

No matter how much your family can contribute to your college expenses, you can still show the university you want to attend by calculating your demonstrated financial need. This is the amount of help that you will need to pay for your classes, fees and other expenses. Though you might worry about how you will show that you need help, you shouldn’t worry because you can use the FAFSA. You’ll use the tax filing your parents used the last year filed and fill out information about yourself and where you want to attend school. Schools will use this form to determine how much help you need.

Cost of Attendance

One of the first things used to determine your financial need is the total cost of attendance. This varies based on the number of classes that you take and the cost of tuition. Full-time students face higher costs than part-time students. Many colleges offer lower tuition rates for students who live in the state than they do for nonresidents or students who live in other states. The cost of attendance can also include estimated costs such as how much the university expects you to pay for room, board, transportation and other personal expenses.

Expected Family Contribution

Another factor that determines your demonstrated financial need is your expected family contribution. Also called your EFC, this is the amount that the government thinks your family has to pay for your education. The government bases this amount on the total amount of money that your parents make, whether they get any government benefits and their overall assets. Children of parents who make less money qualify for more aid. The government will also look at the total number of people in your family and the number of children who currently attend or will attend college. If you have siblings who will also go to school, you may get more aid.

Programs for Those in Need

Need-based aid refers to programs and packages that go to students who demonstrate a higher level of need than others. As there is a limited amount of money available each year, it’s important that you get your FAFSA submitted as soon as possible. According to Federal Student Aid, which is an office of the United States Department of Education, these programs include unsubsidized and subsidized student loans, Perkins loans, Pell grants and admission to the work-study program. This program lets students work around 10 hours a week on college campuses and get money throughout the year.

Other Options

The amount that you get in terms of financial aid may not cover the total cost of your attendance. There is a chance that the government will overestimate your family’s contribution or that you won’t qualify for all programs. The TEACH grant is an alternative program open to students studying education who are also willing to teach in a needy area after graduation. Your parents may qualify for one of the government PLUS loans, and you can also borrow more in unsubsidized loans as an undergraduate.

Government programs help students cover the high costs of attending college today and include both loans that you need to pay back and grants that you do not. Filing the FAFSA is the first step in getting that financial aid and is what college will use to determine your demonstrated financial need.