If you’ve already submitted your online FAFSA, soon after you should have received an emailed confirmation including an amount (without a dollar sign) identified as the EFC, Expected Family Contribution. Eligibility for student financial aid is based on the difference between what the EFC and the cost of attending the college or university. The EFC is the amount you and your parent(s) won’t be expected to come up with the entire EFC all at one time. You can pay it over the course of the school year. Schools might request you to provide a copy of your 2013 income tax returns directly from the IRA via the IRS Data Retrieval Tool . It is crucial that you respond immediately to any requests from financial aid offices. Need-based financial aid is typically awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and funds are limited. Once your schools have copies of your final, updated FAFSA, they will try to meet your financial need through a “package” that combines aid from federal and state sources with loans, institutional need-based grants and merit scholarships, and student employment (work study). Then each school will send you an “award letter” (usually in April) that explains the types and amounts of aid your are eligible to receive..