Calculating Eligibility Calculating Eligibility

Calculating Eligibility

Eligibility for Federal Student Aid (FSA) and most types of state financial aid from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) is based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Other factors that impact eligibility include a student’s year in school (based on credit hours earned), enrollment status (ex: full-time, part-time, etc.), and the Cost of Attendance (COA).

The following equation is used to determine a student’s eligibility:
Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC) equals Financial Need.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

The EFC is not the amount of money a student’s family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid a student will receive. Instead, it is a number calculated by all of the data included on a student’s FAFSA. The EFC is used by the Financial Aid Office to determine how much financial aid a student is eligible to receive. The EFC number is based on the information reported on the FAFSA and is calculated according to a formula established by law.

The EFC Formula guide shows exactly how an EFC is calculated.

One common misconception people have about the EFC is that it is the amount of the outstanding balance to be paid to the College for the year.  The EFC is only used to determine amounts of eligibility for need-based and non-need-based financial aid programs.  It is NOT the amount a student or their family will pay the College for the year.  The outstanding balance of a student’s bill and the EFC will likely differ. Students are responsible for the outstanding balance.

What is need-based aid?

Need-based aid is financial aid that is based on financial need as determined by the FAFSA. Students cannot receive more need-based aid than the amount of their financial need. For example, if the COA is $16,000 and the EFC is $12,000, financial need is $4,000 (COA minus EFC). This means the student would only be able to receive $4,000 worth of need-based funding. The following are the need-based federal student aid programs: Federal Pell Grant Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Direct Subsidized Loan Federal Work Study

What is non-need-based aid?

Non-need-based aid is financial aid that is not based on a student’s EFC. For example, if the COA is $16,000 and need-based aid totals $4,000, up to $12,000 could be non-need-based aid.

The following are examples of non-need-based federal student aid programs:
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan
  • Federal PLUS Loan

Courses Not Used (CNU)

Courses Not Used (CNU) are courses that are not needed to complete your declared major. Federal Student Aid (FSA) and most types of state financial aid cannot be awarded to pay for CNUs. Taking courses that are not a part of your program of study could result in receiving less federal financial aid and potentially having to pay for courses out-of-pocket. 

It is very important for students to meet with their academic advisor prior to registering for courses each semester to ensure students are only enrolling in courses that lead to degree completion. Students can review their degree requirements in PeopleSoft by selecting the Academic Records tile. The My Academic Requirements page will show all of the courses needed to complete a major. The CNU section will be at the very bottom of the My Academic Requirements page.

The Financial Aid Office will notify students of their CNUs and any required action needed by the student via the student’s myFCC email account. Students are encouraged to check their myFCC email frequently.


Contact Information

Phone Icon301.846.2620 (option 1)

Mail Icon[email protected]

Location IconJefferson Hall, 3rd floor

Office Hours

Monday: 8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday* 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

*January - July and August
Available until 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays