College Planning

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) vs. Student Aid Index (SAI): What You Need to Know

If you’re navigating the world of college financial aid, you’ve likely encountered terms like Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and Student Aid Index (SAI). These concepts play a crucial role in determining how much federal student aid you’re eligible to receive. Let’s break down the changes and what they mean for students and families. 


The Transition from EFC to SAI 

Starting in the 2024-25 award year, the Student Aid Index (SAI) has replaced the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as the key metric for assessing financial need. This shift is in accordance with the FAFSA® Simplification Act, which aims to streamline the financial aid process for students and their families. 


What Is the Student Aid Index (SAI)? 

The SAI is an eligibility index number that your college’s or career school’s financial aid office uses to determine your federal student aid package. Unlike the EFC, this number is not a dollar amount of aid eligibility or what your family is expected to provide.  


How Is SAI Calculated? 

Your SAI is calculated using the information you provide on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. This includes your family size, parent’s income, parent’s assets, student’s income, and student’s assets.  

Use our Financial Aid Quiz to assist you in mapping out your eligibility for federal aid. This quiz provides an estimated range of your Student Aid Index (SAI), which helps colleges and schools determine how much federal financial aid you may qualify for. 

Visit Federal Student Aid to learn more about tax information and how the SAI will be listed on your FAFSA Submission Summary.  


What Does This Mean for Students and Families?  

Understanding the SAI is essential when planning for college. It determines your eligibility for federal grants, loans, and work-study programs.  

A few key points to remember:

  • Student Aid Index (SAI) has replaced the Expected Family Contribution. The index number will reflect your eligibility for federal aid programs based on student income, parent income, and other applicable assets.  
  • SAI assesses your financial need. This will help colleges provide tailored aid packages to each student’s need.
  • SAI is the beginning of the financial aid process and not the end of the story!  Some schools will ask you to provide additional information so they have a more complete picture of your need, and you can always ask your financial aid office any questions you have.

Don't lose hope if you are not eligible for federal grant aid. The FAFSA and your SAI will be important to qualify for institutional grants and scholarships.

For school costs and personalized estimates, your school's Net Price Calculator is the best tool to understand the aid available to you and to help with your financial planning.  

Learn more about SAI and other key financial aid information you need to know.