The FAFSA EFC, PIN, And SAR Explained

What Is The FAFSA EFC?
The FAFSA EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution, and is basically what you or your family is expected to contribute towards paying for your college education. The EFC is a number based on a specific formula that will correlate with what you are eligible to receive in federal financial aid for college. In simple terms, generally the lower your FAFSA EFC, the more in federal financial aid for college you are eligible to receive.

The FAFSA EFC is based on a formula that takes the following factors into account: income, assets, employment benefits, your family size, and the number of family members currently attending in college. Once you file your FAFSA, your Student Aid Report (or SAR) will be generated and sent to the schools you have indicated on your FAFSA form. Those schools will then subtract your EFC number from the cost of attendance, and thus you are left with your financial need for a particular school. Now, often your FAFSA EFC is NOT the exact amount you will be expected to pay, because financial aid is also determined by the availability of financial aid at any particular school. The truth is, many families could end up paying more or less than their EFC. If you would like to take a look at an estimated EFC for your family, there is an online estimation tool on the FAFSA website, the FAFSA4caster.

If you and/or your parents are planing to electronically sign your FAFSA, then a FAFSA PIN will be a necessary step. You do not have to electronically sign your FAFSA, but it will speed up the process for you and is easy to apply for. The FAFSA PIN (Personal Identification Number) is used each year to electronically apply for federal student aid and to access your Federal Student Aid records online. Your FAFSA PIN acts as your electronic signature, so once you obtain your FAFSA PIN be certain to never give it out to anyone. You will see on the FAFSA website that applying for a FAFSA PIN only consists of 3 steps: Entering Your Information, Submitting Your PIN Application and Receiving Your PIN.

What Is The FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR)?
Once you have completed the FAFSA, Federal Student Aid processes your application and sends you a Student Aid Report or SAR. On your Student Aid Report (SAR), you will receive an official Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based on the results of the information you provided on your FAFSA. The EFC is an initial estimate based on the information you provided on your FAFSA application, and will be used by your school(s) to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. In order to correctly understand your Student Aid Report (SAR), you will need to know what all the acronyms on your Student Aid Report (SAR) stand for:

APA: Education Savings and Asset Protection Allowance
PCA: Parents Contribution from Assets
AAI: Adjusted Available Income
TPC: Total Parents Contribution
ATI: Allowances Against Total Income
STX: State and Other Tax Allowance
EA: Employment Allowance
IPA: Income Protection Allowance
TSC: Total Student’s Contribution
PC: Parents Contribution
SIC: Dependent Student’s Income Contribution
SCA: Dependent Student’s Contribution from Assets
EFC: Expected Family Contribution
TI: Total Income
CAI: Contribution from Available Income
DNW: Discretionary Net Worth

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