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The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is how much money your family is expected to pay toward your college education for one year.

Typically, the lower your EFC, the more financial aid you will receive. Factors such as family size, number of family members in college, family savings, and current earnings (information you provide on the FAFSA) are used to calculate this figure.
Where can you find your EFC?

Once your FAFSA is processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) with your official EFC figure.
How is your EFC used?

You’re not the only one who receives your EFC information. The same information is also sent to the schools you listed on the FAFSA. The financial aid office will use your EFC to determine your financial need.

Need is defined as the difference between the cost of attending college and your EFC:

Cost of attendance (COA)
= Financial need

Based on that, the financial aid office will prepare a financial aid package and craft a financial award letter.
Your EFC can differ from school to school

Your EFC may vary from one institution to another and is generally calculated using one or both of these nationally accepted methodologies:
Federal EFC methodology

* Based on a formula established by the federal government.
* Takes into account family income, assets, household size, and the number of family members attending college.
* Determines eligibility for federally sponsored financial aid such as Pell Grants, Perkins and Stafford loans, and Federal Work-Study programs.

Institutional EFC methodology

* Used by institutions and organizations to determine a student's eligibility for institutionally based, private aid programs.
* May vary from college to college.
* Additional factors in a family's financial situation are occasionally considered to determine a student's eligibility for institutional need-based aid.
* May be used instead of, or in addition to, the federal EFC to determine eligibility to receive financial aid from college or private funds administered by the college.

The EFC is the Expected Family Contribution, not just your parents' contribution. You and your parents share the responsibility for paying for college.

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Sallie Mae, the nation's leader in education finance, offers just the right combination of student loan options to help you pay for school — all in one place.
Federal student loans

Federal student loans are the largest source of education loans. You and your family can get these loans through private financial institutions such as Sallie Mae.

Federal student loans have more favorable terms than private loans. These loans are guaranteed by the government, and the government sets their low interest rate. Nearly all students are eligible to receive federal student loan money (regardless of credit score or other financial issues), and federal student loans feature a grace period after school when no payments are due.

* Federal Stafford loans
* Federal Perkins loans
* Federal Parent PLUS loans
* Federal Graduate PLUS loans

For graduate and professional students, the Graduate PLUS loan is the best supplement to Stafford loans and should be pursued before a private loan.
Private student loans

After you've pursued free money and federal loans, private student loans may be available to cover the rest of your education costs.

Depending on the lender, private student loan (alternative student loan) terms can vary considerably based on your credit history. Sallie Mae offers the following private student loans:

* Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan
* Continuing Education Loan
* Career Training Loan

Loans for international students

International student loans provide financial solutions for the growing population of students pursuing college and university degrees outside their home country.

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