How to Reduce EFC? Increases Financial Aid Eligibility
Five Steps in the EFC Tune-UP™ Process
Step # 1 – Project your your Expected Family Contribution (“EFC”) FAFSA and CSS PROFILE if applicable.
Step # 2 – We will check our EFC Reduction Check-List providing a before and after graphical representation.
Step 3 – Use your projected EFC Number to Measure Financial Aid Eligibility, Need Based And Merit/Grant Aid.
Step 4 – Determine College Affordability examine your potential “funding gap” (possible out-of-pocket costs) by each selected school.
Step 5 – Identify the Most Generous Schools from the schools you are considering and/or schools that might be suggested.
Strategy Alert: Projecting the funding gap before financial aid awards come out is important because you will be more informed to properly evaluate the awards. In addition there is little time to decide prior to the May 1st deposit deadline for many schools. Remember the FAFSA dictates the federal Title IV Financial Aid awarded regardless of school.
Step 1 Calculate Your EFC
- When You Enroll, we’ll email you and set up a “get acquainted” phone call.
- You will receive a link to our online EFC Calculator where you input some data, then securely upload the data into our financial aid software (Your time 10-15 minutes). Or, if you prefer we can do it over the telephone.
- If you already know your EFC number and you are satisfied then we’ll proceed to step 2.
Step 2 Go Through EFC Formula Reduction Checklist
- Assessable and Non-Assessable Assets | Income including the treatment of Home Equity/Small Business Interests.
- Deductions from Financial Aid Income.
- Untaxed Income and Benefits (what is tax deductible can add to your financial aid income)
- What are Allowances and how they benefit you
- What are strategies within the rules that lower your EFC and “Maximize Financial Aid Opportunity”?
- BONUS Section: Rental Property Owners, How to Exclude Rental Property from FAFSA!
Step 2 has two goals;
- Determine if there are strategies that can reduce your EFC Number.
- Eliminate possible mistakes that could result in a higher EFC Score than necessary (“following the rules”).
Step 3 Financial Aid Eligibility Report
Shows Percentage Need Met By School
Eligibility report shows financial aid estimates by college based upon the information they file (IPEDS).
Percentage “Need Met” is the total cost of attendance less your EFC times the percentage of total financial aid the school provides on the average to incoming freshman. Schools do provide merit aid without financial need, percentage need met is not part of that process.
How important is “percentage need met” and conversely “unmet need” (funding gap or out-of-pocket costs) in the college selection process?
Here is an example of a flag ship east cost state school, out-of-state student with EFC 00000. The school meets 63% of need met, cost-of-attendance out-of-state about $44,000 per year, the family is left with $16,280 (100% – 63% = 37% multiplied by $44,000 = $16,280.
This assumes the student receives the 63% need met which did not happen until we filed a financial aid appeal.
Remember the Expected Family Contribution of ZERO?
Many people think that if your EFC is 00000 you will not have to pay anything for college. This is not true.
Going through the EFC Tune UP™ provides a projection of financial aid by school based upon your EFC number so you can accurately focus on the affordability issue.
In the above example, the family would have understood this big funding gap and probably would have opted for a lower out-of-pocket cost school.
EFC Tune UP™ also alerts the family if they choose (they did not go through the course in advance) to attend this school what a fair financial aid award would be.
They did not receive a fair offer (out-of-state-student), we filed an appeal and received more than the average 63% financial need met referenced above including two new grants, but still a significant funding gap remained.
Step 4 Your Funding Gap Measures College Affordability
- How to Leverage Financial Aid Eligibility Reporting, Understanding Percentage Need Met in sorting Schools and how to project your actual funding gap (hint: do it with and without loans)?
- How to create Competition among Schools.
- How should you list the schools on your FAFSA form?
- Why You Must Examine a School’s Average Freshman Profile When you Build Your College List.
- How to use Student Positioning which helps with Admissions and Financial Awards?
- How to increase your chances for Merit Awards (free money)?
Step 5 – Find the Most Generous Schools Compare Step 4
Below part of the financial aid eligibility report demonstrates average % need met that that constitutes needs based financial aid.
Needs based financial aid consists of Gift Aid and Self Help.
Aid without need is provided to students where family income is too high for need-based financial aid.
Gift Aid as the names implies does not have to be paid back, grants and scholarships fall into this category.
Self Help includes student loans and federal work study.
Reporting That Provides You
With School Specific Information
The student information below is also included in the Financial Aid Eligibility report.
This information becomes very valuable when making conclusions about step 5 and step 4 information. Of particular noet is freshman retention rate, graduation rate , average student debt and for high income families aid without financial need breakdown.
Individual College Research Intelligence
Two Page Summary Reports
Email us the colleges you want to consider. These two page summaries simplify your life with almost everything you need to know about a school on two pages.
This two Page PDF allows you to quickly filter colleges for some of your key decision making metrics. You can easily assemble key data into spreadsheet for comparisons and work in progress, easily see key deadlines for each school.
We use this report with our personal coaching clients to track deadline dates and to complete some of our customized spreadsheets we use to easily compare and rank colleges based upon specific objectives.
Remember, Two Approaches Can Help Your Family
Lower Your EFC Score? Minimize Foolish Mistakes!
There are two important considerations when examining how you can reduce your EFC number.
- First, see if you can minimize you your EFC number. For success you must understand the terminology (or hire someone that does) within the EFC calculation then how the rules dictate the result. EFC Tune-UP™ goes through a check-list of possible reduction strategies reviewing “now”” and possible “reduction strategies” into the future..
- Second, eliminate mistakes that can result in a higher EFC number than necessary, this is where understanding both the terminology and the rules are paramount!
Strategy Alert: EFC Tune-UP includes detailed analysis of of how income and assets are reported that allows you to consider what strategies within the rules you might consider based upon your family’s financial situation. The objectives are simple, make the most informed decisions and eliminate surprises.
Recap – WHAT Does EFC Tune UP™ Do For You
How Can It Help You?
- Identify Your Projected Current Expected Family Contribution – “EFC”.
- Look at ways to decrease your EFC and help you eliminate financial aid mistakes.
- You select colleges and we provide Financial Aid Eligibility information.
- We provide two page informational guides for each of your selected colleges that provides key metrics and saves you a tremendous amount of time and frustration search college websites.
- Some Strategies are time sensitive, longer you wait the lower the impact.
Is This Going To Be Complicated?
No. You should be able to complete the calculator information in less than 15 minutes.
Our explanations are broken down into modules using power point slides when providing rules, for example what are deductions from financial aid income? They are listed on a slide/s.
Please remember, the information we provide is personalized to your family’s individual financial situation.
Obviously we never share your information with anyone.
Is the EFC Tune UP™ Affordable?
Personalized Family EFC Financial Aid Reporting
Here are the steps for your EFC Tune-UP™.
1. When You Enroll, we’ll email you and set up a “get acquainted” phone call.
2. You will receive a link to our online EFC Calculator where you input some data, then securely upload the data into our financial aid software.
3. We’ll review your results, provide you a summary of your EFC calculation and provide any suggestions that might lower your EFC, providing you a before and after graph that itemizes the recommendations.
4. Based upon colleges that you select or we might recommend, we’ll provide you Financial Aid Eligibility comparisons that show schools side-by-side, 5 per page up to 25 schools.
5. The Financial Aid Eligibility information can be used when you receive your financial aid award for appeal consideration – remember some schools send low-ball financial aid awards. If they report their need- meet as 85% of financial need and their award to your student is 40% then an appeal might be in order.
Some Common Questions
1. Am I limited to 25 schools? No, we are suggesting that number because in most situations that probably is enough.
2. Is the EFC Tune UP just for High School Seniors? No.
Current college families (except seniors) can benefit by determining if they can lower their EFC score and compare their school reported financial aid award percentage need met with their current award for appeal consideration.
Sophomores and Junior families will benefit by learning how the process works so as they prepare their school lists (safety-target-reach) they can begin sorting schools by generosity and be in position for understanding how the EFC process works. In addition student positioning will be explained and how to use each college’s student profile.
3. How long do I have to request the Financial Aid Eligibility reports for the selected colleges? There is no time limit we just ask that you are reasonable in making relevant requests that will be benefit you.
4. What does funding gap mean? It is the anticipated difference between the cost of attendance and the projected financial aid award, another name would be “out-of-pocket costs”. This provides a meaningful way to compare college affordability in the selection process. Of course the final decision rests with the actual awards provided by the various schools in your application pool.
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For a complimentary discussion, please contact Jim Kuhner Email: jimkuhner@CollegeSelectionStrategy.com or call direct (817-600-0576).