Every college website, somewhere in the financial aid page or the admissions page has a cost of education figure that represents the estimated cost of education at that college. That estimated cost figure is used by college financial aid and scholarship offices, college veterans affairs offices, federal and private lenders to determine how much total financial assistance a student can receive.
Families who have that number can subtract the EFC or Estimated Family Contribution from the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to determine the amount of need they have. It's that simple, subtract EFC from estimated cost. Knowing whether or not you have need is important. Many scholarships state that one qualification for an eligible applicant is to have need.
The college financial aid office uses need information to determine the federal, state and private aid for which each student is eligible. The scholarship office uses that information to determine the amount of scholarships each student may accept. The VA Office also uses that figure to calculate VA benefits.
In general, the larger the need, the larger the award. Some types of government aid have an EFC point at which the student is ineligible for that type of aid. Each financial aid office has a formula for awarding aid. An office may award a specific percentage of the amount of need that remains from the subtraction problem Cost minus EFC. Some have a policy of awarding 100%. Many award 80%.