Determining Financial Need

Many financial aid resources, especially those from federal and state governments, are distributed based on financial need. This means that colleges must determine the financial need of each student in order to distribute financial aid.

Need is defined as the difference between the cost of attendance at a particular college and the student's (and family's) ability to pay for those costs. The amount the family is expected to pay is commonly referred to as Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, which is calculated when students file their FAFSA or the CA Dream Act Application. The difference between the cost and the EFC is called "financial need."

A family’s ability to pay (that is, the EFC) is calculated using a process known as “need analysis," which is based upon these principles:

  • To the extent they are able, parents have the primary responsibility to pay for the education of their dependent children.
  • Students also have a responsibility to help pay for their educational costs.
  • Families should be evaluated in their present financial condition.
  • A family’s ability to pay for educational costs must be evaluated in an equitable and consistent manner, while recognizing that special circumstances can and do alter a family’s ability to pay.

Determining Your Cost of Attendance

Net Price Calculator
The "net price" of college is the real price that a student pays -- the cost minus the financial aid offers you might qualify for. Our Net Price Calculator can help you estimate the true cost of attending college at Mt. SAC and give you an idea of the types of financial aid offers you qualify for.


Mt. SAC's Standard Budget
After you complete your FAFSA or the CA Dream Act Application, the federal government or California Student Aid Commission uses a "standard budget" for a student at Mt. SAC as the cost of attendance, which is then used to calculate your financial need. Our Financial Aid Office provides this standard student budget using surveyed information (provided by the California Student Aid commission and the Chancellor's Office for California Community Colleges) to calculate the average cost of attendance at Mt. SAC.

Standard student budgets are constructed recognizing different costs for three categories of students: those living at home, those living away from home, and those attending less than half-time (less than half-time budgets are used to determine Federal Pell eligibility only). Non-resident students will have the cost of tuition added as a budget component to determine loan eligibility.

Example of 2022-2023 Standard Student Budget

Budget Components Living with Parents Living away from Home Less than Half-Time
Books $1,152 $1,152 $1,152
Room & Board $9,360 $17,784 $0
Transportation $1,026 $936 $936
Personal $3,348 $3,924 $0
Enrollment Fees $1,352* $1,352* $676*
Health Fee $46 $46 $46
Service Fee $22 $22 $22
Total $16,306 $25,216 $2,832

*Non-California Resident Students, add $8,708

Note: For additional information on Determining Financial Need, please click on the videos below: