How Much Will a College Expect You to Pay? By: Lynn O'Shaunessy
You can't possibly answer that question unless you know what your Estimated Family Contribution or EFC is.
An EFC is the amount of money, at a minimum, that a college will expect you to pay for one year of your child's college education. Often times you will have to pay more than your stated EFC unless you're attending an elite school with excellent financial aid packages.
Your EFC will be expressed as a dollar amount. A low-income family could have an EFC that's as low as $0. There is no ceiling as to how high the EFC can be for wealthy families. The highest I've ever seen was about $108,000 for a family where the father was a CEO. Obviously, $108,000 is way above the price of one year's costs at any college.
How To Obtain Your EFC:
Getting advance notice is better than waiting until your child receives his or her financial aid packages in the spring of her senior year in high school. I think families should obtain their EFC as early as a child's freshman year in high school. Here are two calculators that you can use to obtain your EFC.
College Board's EFC Calculator
FinAid's EFC Calculator
Here is some of the information that you'll need to use the calculators:
• Number of children in college.
• Marital status of parents.
• Adjusted gross income.
• Non-retirement investments.
• Income taxes paid for most recent calendar year.