Financial Aid Eligibility

How is eligibility determined?

Eligibility for most federal and state programs is based on "need." Families are primarily responsible for educational costs, but need-based aid is available when "need analysis" shows that a family cannot afford to pay the full cost of education.

"Need" is determined using family financial information to estimate what the family is expected to contribute toward college costs in a year. The estimated family contribution (EFC) is compared with college costs for a year. When the EFC is less, the difference is need. This "need" is the maximum a student may receive in need-based financial aid. Note: Need may differ depending on college costs.

Example: A student applies for financial aid at three colleges. The family contribution is calculated to be $2,000 and remains constant.

College Type Costs Family Contribution "Need"
Oregon Community College $9,919 -2000 7,919
State University in Oregon $13,457 -2000 11,457
Oregon Independent College $26,444 -2000 24,444

You must complete and submit forms by deadlines. Check with your school to determine the deadline for filing for financial aid.

What is your family contribution?

Information about family contribution is gained from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which must be completed by every student wanting financial aid for college. FAFSAs are available from high schools and colleges or may be filed electronically at You must file a new FAFSA each year so that your need can be reevaluated.

You can find a "family contribution calculator" on the Internet at The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid Page. This will give you an estimate of your family's contribution. Your exact EFC comes from completing your FAFSA.

Helpful Links

Plan and Estimate your Share of College Costs