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Determining Financial Aid

Federal financial aid programs were created with the intent that the primary responsibility for paying college costs rests with the student and their family. Need-based financial aid is available to students who demonstrate financial need for additional resources to help pay college costs as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The formula used to determine whether you are eligible for need-based aid is:

Cost of Attendance for financial aid purposes (COA) - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – Scholarships & Other Resources = Need for Aid

Financial aid is awarded on the basis of financial need with the exception of the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Parent PLUS Loan, Graduate PLUS Loan and private loan programs.  Scholarships are awarded based on a variety of criteria, such as academic merit, financial need, leadership, service, etc.

Cost of Attendance (COA) is sometimes referred to as a student budget. It represents a reasonable estimate of the cost of attending the University for a full academic year, including:

  • estimated amounts for tuition and fees,
  • books and supplies,
  • room and board, and
  • a modest allowance for personal/miscellaneous expenses.

A student's financial aid cannot be more than their estimated Cost of Attendance for financial aid purposes. 

Keep in mind that your actual costs may differ from the estimated cost of attendance. You may want to use a budget worksheet to help you determine actual costs. You can view the basic Cost of Attendance for different students at our Cost of Attendance page.

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is determined by the U.S. Department of Education using the information reported on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is based on family income, assets, the number of family members in the household and the number of members attending college. It does not represent the amount you owe WVU.

Many of the federal aid programs have specific criteria students must meet in order to qualify for that aid program. The Federal Pell Grant Program, for example, is determined by the EFC as well as the student’s enrollment. The amount of the Pell Grant will vary based on if the student is enrolled on a full- or part-time basis.