Pell Grant EFC

A studentís eligibility for a Pell Grant is based on their EFC score that they receive after theyíve submitted their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application.  The EFC, also known as the Expected Family Contribution, is based on a familyís income level, family assets, total number of dependants, and any benefits received, such as social security or unemployment.  The cost of attendance is also factored into the equation when calculating an applicantís EFC score.  Cost of attendance includes tuition, college fees, room and board, books, travel, and personal expenses.  When the cost of attendance is high compared to a familyís income / asset level, there tends to be more federal financial aid available.

To qualify for a Pell Grant, applicants must have a low EFC score.  Students with low EFC scores have a higher chance of receiving a Pell Grant.  A Pell Grant is available to low income students that are in financial need to pay for their higher education.  An EFC score of zero will qualify students for the maximum Pell Grant award amount.  The income level for an automatic zero EFC score changes each year, so itís important to review the current year qualifications. 
SAR - Student Aid Report

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) score is shown in the SAR (Student Aid Report) that is distributed to students that have completed their FAFSA Application.  The FAFSA must be fully completed in order to receive an EFC score, since all financial information is needed to make an accurate EFC score calculation. 

FAFSA applicants that provide an email address on their FAFSA application will receive their SAR Report online.  Youíll receive an e-mail with instructions on how to access an online copy of your SAR report. If no email address was provided then the report will be distributed through US Mail. 

How to Lower Your EFC Score

The EFC score is one of the most important financial aid scores, since it is used to determine how much a student will receive in federal financial aid for the upcoming school year.  Weíve provided some great options that can help lower your overall EFC score just by making some small changes within your FAFSA Application.

File as an Independent Student: Independent students are more likely to qualify for federal financial aid and a Pell Grant because they are unable to contribute as much of their own income towards their educational expenses.  Also, filing as an independent student does not require your parentís income or financial assets, which will greatly increase the chances of you receiving federal financial aid. 

Lower Income Level: Income level is a major factor when determining an EFC score.  The lower your income level is then lower your EFC score will be.  The income level reflected in the FAFSA is based on the adjusted gross income level, which takes deductions and income credits into factor.  Increasing your deductions/credits or lowering your income will lower your EFC score.
Family Status: Married students will have a lower EFC score than single students even if they have the same income level.  The EFC formula factors in the number of dependants that are covered under the student to determine an award amount.  Students with children will also lower the studentís overall EFC score.   

Family Assets:  Having a large amount in savings or investments can hinder applicants from qualifying for financial aid and the Pell Grant.   A large savings account shows that there is extra money that can be used towards an education.

The Pell Grant is a great option for students in need of additional financial aid to pay for their education.  Having an EFC score of zero will qualify applicants for the full Pell Grant award amount for the upcoming school term.  Students that receive the Pell Grant can use the funds for any school related expense or towards the cost of attendance. 
Pell Grant Qualifications