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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) minus (-) Expected Family Contribution (EFC) minus (-) Scholarships & Other Resources = Need for Aid

Financial aid is offered on the basis of financial need with the exception of the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Parent PLUS Loan, Graduate PLUS Loan, and private loan programs. Institutional scholarships and grants may be offered 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 (on- or off-campus), 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 more information on our Cost of Attendance webpage.

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.

For most students, the estimated cost of attendance and aid offers provided are based on anticipated full-time enrollment in courses eligible for federal and state aid. For Title IV federal aid and WV state aid eligibility, there are requirements for enrollment that must be met to determine if courses can count toward the enrollment requirements for that aid, such as repeated coursework and courses required for degree completion (also known as Course Program of Study or degree-pursuant coursework).