Getting your college education can be expensive, but you don’t have to pay for it alone. In fact, you can use a mixture of different types of financial aid to help you pay for college. There are options that you don’t have to pay back, like scholarships and grants such as the Pell Grant, which is federally subsidized by the U.S. government. Depending on your estimated expected family contribution (sometimes abbreviated as EFC), you can receive other grants and aid as well. Even if you can’t quite pay for things on your own, you can always count on student loans to make up the difference. Just keep in mind there is a limit to how much financial aid you can receive.

Tip

To see how much financial aid you are receiving each semester, sign in to your school's online portal and check the financial aid section.

How Much Pell Grant Money Can You Receive?

For the 2017 to 2018 school year, the maximum Pell Grant award amount was $5,920 for the entire year. The amount you get depends on your school’s cost of attendance and how much money you’re receiving from other places. The amount will also be split between semesters. For example, if your Pell Grant is for $5,000, you will receive $2,500 in the fall semester and $2,500 in the spring.

Other grants that may be available to you include the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant and many more. Make sure you talk to your guidance counselor and get help in applying for these and other opportunities.

What Is the Estimated Expected Family Contribution?

Your estimated expected family contribution or EFC is a number produced by a formula on the FAFSA. FAFSA calculates how much money your family is likely to be able to give you to help pay for college. The EFC is calculated by taking into account your family’s taxed and untaxed income, their assets and some benefits like SSI. Your family’s size and the number of students it will be sending to college are also considered in the EFC. The EFC itself helps financial aid officers determine how much money they should give you if you decide to come to their school.

How Do You Check the Financial Aid Award?

To see how much financial aid you are receiving each semester, sign in to your school's online portal and check the financial aid section. You can also visit the financial aid office to talk to someone in person about your upcoming financial aid disbursements.

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