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Determining Financial Aid Awards

How much financial aid will you receive? The amount of financial aid you are eligible for depends on several factors such as grade level, enrollment status and these three criteria:

  • Cost of Attendance  
  • Expected Family Contribution
  • Financial Need

Cost of Attendance (COA) is the amount it will cost you to attend school. It includes tuition, fees, loan fees, estimated living costs, transportation costs, child or dependent care allowances, costs related to a disability and other miscellaneous expenses. Learn more about the cost of attendance at Rio Salado.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index number used to determine how much financial aid you would receive to attend a college. It is calculated using your family's taxed and untaxed income assets and benefits. Your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college.

Financial need determines how much need-based aid you can get. It is an amount calculated by the college financial aid office using the formula below.

Need-Based Financial Aid 

Need-based aid is financial aid that you can receive if you have financial need and meet other eligibility criteria. You can’t receive more need-based aid than the amount of your financial need. For instance, if your COA is $16,000 and your EFC is $12,000, your financial need is $4,000 and you aren’t eligible for more than $4,000 in need-based aid.

Need-based federal student aid programs include: Federal Grants and Direct Subsidized Loans.

Calculating Financial Need

Non-Need-Based Financial Aid

If you do not qualify for need-based aid, non-need-based financial aid may be awarded. Non-need-based aid is financial aid that is not based on your EFC. What matters is your COA and how much other assistance you’ve been awarded so far. For instance, if your COA is $16,000 and you’ve been awarded a total of $4,000 in need-based aid and private scholarships, you can get up to $12,000 in non-need-based aid.  Non-need-based federal student aid programs include Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Federal PLUS loans.

Calculating Non-need-based Aid

  • Cost of Attendance - (minus) Financial Aid Awarded = Eligibility for non-need based aid