How Need is Determined

Need is calculated as the difference between your MSU budget and your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). The table below shows an example of this formula:

Example Budget $21,642 A student's estimated cost of attendance for Fall and Spring semester
Example EFC -$5,620 Determined by the results of a completed FAFSA
Example Need $16,022 The maximum amount of need-based aid that this student may receive

How your EFC is determined

Your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) is a number that describes how much you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) are expected to contribute towards your educational costs. This number is calculated using a formula established by Congress, which takes into account all of the data that you and your parents supply on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

If you suspect that your EFC is incorrect, please review your Student Aid Report (SAR) and correct any errors at

Awarding of need-based aid

The Office of Financial Aid offers need-based grants (such as the Federal Pell Grant), loans, and work-study to students who are eligible based on the results of their FAFSA. Your award notification from MSU will list your eligibility for these programs. After need-based awards have been offered, the remainder of a student's budget may be met with a Direct Unsubsidized Loan or Parent PLUS Loan. Graduate students may also be eligible for a Grad PLUS Loan.

In general, the amount of all your financial aid cannot exceed your budget, and the amount of your need-based aid cannot exceed your need.