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Are You Wondering How the Amount of Your Financial Aid is Determined?

Posted By: Jeanne Ballard - 7/6/2022 12:00:00 AM

So, you’ve filed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and you’ve checked your Student Aid Report to be sure all your information is correct, and now you’re wondering how that data is used to come up with the financial aid for which you are eligible. Vernon College will use several pieces of information to calculate your aid.

If I meet the basic eligibility criteria for federal student aid, who decides how much money I will get?

Here’s the short answer:

The financial aid office at Vernon College will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.

  • The VC financial aid staff starts by determining your cost of attendance (COA).
  • We then consider your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  • We subtract your EFC and other financial aid from your COA to determine the amount of your financial need and therefore how much need-based aid you can get.

If you’d like the long answer, keep reading!

What does cost of attendance (COA) mean?

Your COA is the amount it will cost you to go to Vernon College for the school year (for instance, for the fall semester plus the spring semester).

If you're attending at least half-time, your COA is the estimate of

  • tuition and fees;
  • room and board; 
  • books and supplies;
  • transportation expenses;
  • personal expenses;
  • miscellaneous expenses.

What’s the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

Your EFC is an index number that Vernon College financial aid staff use to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend VC. The information you report on your FAFSA is used to calculate your EFC.

The EFC is calculated according to a formula established by law. Your family's taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) all could be considered in the formula. Also considered are your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year.

Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by Vernon College to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.

What is need-based aid and how does my school figure out how much I will get?

Vernon College first determines whether you have financial need by using this simple formula:

Calculating Your Financial Need

   Cost of Attendance (COA)

– Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

= Financial Need

Need-based aid is financial aid that you can receive if you have financial need and meet other eligibility criteria. You cannot receive more need-based aid than the amount of your financial need. For instance, if your COA is $16,000 and your EFC is 12,000, your financial need is $4,000; so you aren’t eligible for more than $4,000 in need-based aid.

The following are the need-based federal student aid programs:  

What is non-need-based aid and how does my school figure out how much I will get?

Vernon College determines how much non-need-based aid you can get by using this formula:

Calculating Your Non-need-based Aid

   Cost of Attendance (COA)

– Financial Aid Awarded So Far*

= Eligibility for Non-need-based Aid

  *includes aid from all sources, such as the school, private scholarship providers, etc.

Non-need-based aid is financial aid that is not based on your EFC. What matters is your COA and how much other assistance you have been awarded so far. For instance, if your COA is $16,000 and you have been awarded a total of $4,000 in need-based aid and private scholarships, you can get up to $12,000 in non-need-based aid.

The following are the non-need-based federal student aid programs:

If you have any additional questions, please call our office.  The VC Financial Aid office wants to provide you the financial support you need to afford your education! 
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