All successful college plans start with determining what your families Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number is.

This is the number that the Department of Education determines your family can afford to pay for college each year. A figure that is based on several things including: income, assets, ages of the parents, and number of kids in college.

Once your family knows its EFC number, it can quickly determine whether need based financial aid will be a factor or not.

Here is the formula:

Cost of Attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Family Need

If your EFC is less than the COA, than there is a chance for need based financial aid.

If there is a chance for need-based aid, your family needs to do everything it possibly can to legally lower the EFC number in order to obtain as much aid as possible.