EPI's weekly illustration of education data trends — June 14, 2018

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Expected Family Contributions (EFC) for Undergraduate Students (2016)


Today's EPIGraph takes a look at what we call the "EFC," or the Expected Family Contribution, for undergraduate students and their families. The EFC is what the family is "expected" to contribute based on information collected and analyzed via the FAFSA. With this data, colleges create the financial aid package and then families must determine how to pay the rest. This may come from loans, savings, scholarships, and other pieces. It is possible that families have to pay more than the EFC given available financial aid from the college and federal and state governments.

As illustrated below, the average EFC for 2016 public four-year students was $12,076 compared to $17,278 for students at private, non-profit four-year institutions. As further illustrated, other factors play into the EFC outcomes. For instance, the lower the family income, the lower the EFC, which makes sense since the EFC is about a family's ability to pay. Similarly, the level of education of the parents matters, as those with higher levels of education tend to earn more, on average, than other people. Thus, those with a high school diploma or less have a lower EFC. And Black and Hispanic students also have lower EFCs because their incomes correlate with lower education and lower-paying jobs, on average, than White parents: a nasty but true reality in America.

Understand that these values are per year, not per education. Thus, multiply times four or more to get the entire EFC for students and families.

SOURCE: Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16). Data downloaded and analyzed from PowerStats by Educational Policy Institute.