Although the FAFSA EFC is commonly referred to as the “Expected Family Contribution”, it is NOT the amount a family is expected to pay for college.
In most cases, the EFC is not even a close approximation of the amount a family will be expected to pay for college. It is simply one of the factors that determine eligibility for certain types of financial aid awards. The EFC impacts the amount of need-based aid awarded, but it is not a measure of how much you will pay for college.
The amount you will pay for college is the Net Price (Sticker Price – Discounts), which will vary from school to school. Sometimes your FAFSA EFC will be higher than the Net Price of a particular target school and sometimes it will be lower.
Every college publishes a Net Price Calculator to help students estimate the net price.