EFC for Multiple Children

Many people asked, after my last post, how EFC gets calculated or divided with multiple children in college. It’s not a strict 50/50 division; some adjustments get made first.

First is how the formulas work. Below is the Income Protection Allowance table from the current EFC Formula Guide. As you can see, the numbers vary based on Number in parents’ household (the row headers) and Number of college students in the household (the column headers).

Income Protection Allowance graphic

Each additional member of the household yields a slightly larger allowance. However, each additional student reduces the allowance. Many people find this confusing because they expect EFC to decrease based on multiple children. That’s when you need to remember that EFC is Expected Family Contribution, not Expected Student Contribution. The EFC is the amount the family should expect to be paying out of pocket each year. With multiple college students, that number will increase slightly– by about $1,500 assuming the incremental income gets assessed at 47%. However, colleges know that the family is dividing that EFC among the number of students in college.

The Profile adjusts similarly; it also asks whether the siblings are attending public or private universities. Though there’s no specific formula for it, assume that a private school will expect to capture at least 60% of the family’s EFC (as calculated by the Profile) if the family has two college students. Public schools generally consider the EFC to be equally divided between the students. Note that this math for a family with two college students where one student attends a public and the other a private will result in at least 110% of EFC.

And again, because there isn’t one formula for dividing EFC between schools, your best bet is to use the school’s net price calculator or, if you’ve already received a financial aid offer, contact the school directly to ask how siblings might impact the award.

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