EFC Calculator – Learn how to use an EFC Calculator

Parent Discussing EFC CalculatorWhy should a family learn how to use a Student Aid Index or EFC/SAI Calculator?  Beginning December, 2023, the FAFSA form or Free Application for Federal Student Aid will be available for the school year 2024-2025. The SAI is the number a college will use in estimating a student’s financial need.  Families will get their Student Aid Index after completing the FAFSA form and this number will be sent to the colleges the student has specified.

At PayForED, we make it our job to offer smart and efficient student loan solutions using our optimized software. Read on to learn more about how the SAI is calculated.

How is the SAI Calculated?

Most people believe the SAI to be one number, but it is the sum of four significant calculations.  PayForED breaks down the Student Aid Index number so that parents and students can understand what details are involved in this calculation and their financial aid positioning. The actual calculation is four separate numbers that are summed together: parents’ income, parents’ assets, student’s income, and student’s assets. Each of these components has separate rules and allowances. 

Using the PayForED’s SAI Calculator 

One of the functions built into PayForED’s software is the Student Aid Index calculator. Families can get an advance preview of how much financial aid they might receive for all the schools on a college list.  The SAI Calculator in the College Cost Analyzer was developed using the same formula as the federal government and has been updated for the FAFSA year 2024-2025 academic year.

You might wonder how the College Cost Analyzer software is helpful?  With this software, families only need to input their financial information once, and then the information will be generated for all of their schools on their list.  This fast and easy comparison will show families by school what they are expected to pay.  If the calculation shows that they are eligible for less aid than was expected, it helps engage the family and allows them to review the colleges on their child’s list.  Questions on how much merit aid or outside scholarships should also be discussed during this time, along with the SAI number. 

This approach is done twice in the PayForED methodology.  The first is at the pre-application process and then again once the acceptance letter is received.  Using this method improves the college application list and then helps a family make an informed decision by allowing you to compare colleges side by side easily. 

How Accurate are SAI Calculators?

Most college websites have net price calculators which will give a family an estimate of what the college will expect them to pay.  The question you will need to determine is how accurate are these calculators and do you want to go spend your time going to every college site to complete this process.  If you go this route, always check to see if the cost of attendance data is reflecting the more current cost.  Based on a  University of Penn Study many college net price calculators are not updated.

Families also need to review the financial information that they enter.  The accuracy of the SAI number is dependent on the accuracy of your information.  When you do the FAFSA, we recommend that you enter the information and then wait a day to go back and check your information.  If you use the College Cost Analyzer, the SAI number calculated should give you a good estimate for your FAFSA or Federal SAI number.  This software solution will also provide additional transparency to your net cost and debt at graduation for each college.

EFC Will Become SAI Soon

As part of the FAFSA simplification process, the Expected Family Contribution name will become the Student Aid Index or SAI.  There are significant changes to the SAI calculation that are part of the FAFSA Simplification rollout.  The full implementation will be completed for school year 2024-25.  It will be reflected in the FAFSA available in December, 2023.

Consulting a Financial Advisor

After using the PayForED SAI calculator, you may need more extensive help finding financial strategies to help lower your SAI and the cost of college.  Most people underestimate the paying of college complexity.   If you want to consult an expert, a list of College Funding and Student Loan Advisors (CFSLA) is listed on the PayForED website.

Remember, your SAI is just one part of the paying-for-college puzzle.  Other college costs saving ideas include educational tax credits, college saving plans, and selecting the best financing options.  Please view our Ultimate Guide to Paying for College to get more details on this process.

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