You are here: American University Financial Aid Calculated Need and Expected Family Contribution

Contact Us

4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016 United States

Back to top

How is calculated need determined?

Financial Need is the difference between a student's Cost of Attendance (COA) and the Student Aid Index (SAI). In order to be eligible for need-based aid, students must have need.

COA minus SAI equals Need

The SAI is the estimated amount you can contribute from your own resources, plus an amount your parents can reasonably contribute from their resources.

Determining the SAI

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) uses federally legislated formulas to determine the SAI. Your resources include wages, salary, tips, interest, dividends, Social Security benefits, welfare benefits and other income. Your savings and other assets are also used to determine your available resources for educational expenses. Standard allowances include deductions for federal, state and local taxes; the employment of both parents or a single parent working outside the home; the ages and marital status of your parents; the number of family members in the household and enrolled in college on at least a half-time basis; and standard consumer debt and retirement income.

Eligibility for University grant funds is determined using information from the CSS Profile. Additional factors are taken into consideration such as younger siblings attending private school, home equity, and non-custodial parent support. Certain types of losses may also be excluded. When determining your eligibility, the university estimates that you will be able to save a minimum of $1,200 from your earnings to apply toward your educational expenses for the following academic year.

Initial calculations may be revised, based on actual tax return information or other documents submitted.

Financial Need and Aid Renewal

You must apply for need-based financial aid every year. If you meet all eligibility criteria and your financial circumstances are comparable, you can expect the same amount of aid for the next academic year.

Changes in family financial circumstances, such as income and/or the number of household members attending college, will affect financial need and eligibility for aid. Families that experience changes in circumstances may appeal their offer. Appeals re approved based on the availability of funding as well as the strength of the appeal.