If you subtract Financial Need - Financial Aid Awarded = you get UNMET NEED

What Does UNMET Need Mean On My Financial Aid Letter

Unmet need is the financial aid term for the difference between the financial aid awarded and the cost of a students tuition and other expensesEpisode 8

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Hi, This is JR the College Money Man, giving you my Daily Scholarships and Financial Aid Tip in about two minutes. This is Episode 8, and today we are talking about the term UNMET NEED.

Now most parents and students may feel that the term “unmet need” means the entire cost of a college education. After all, most families cannot afford the cost of college on their own. However, this term actually has a meaning that is more exact, and is necessary in determining the amount of aid you will receive.


The Federal Department of Education defines need as the difference between how much college costs and how much you can actually pay for it. Financial Aid Offices use the following federal need-analysis formula to compute need for students that applied for federal financial aid:

Cost of Attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial Need

Now as you may remember, the EFC is the amount the government thinks you can give to you or your students education. In addition, the Unmet need is the difference between financial need and financial aid awardedCOA sets the price of attending a schools degree program. By subtracting the EFC from the COA, you get Financial Need. For example, if a students COA is 10000, and their EFC is 2000, their financial need is 8000. This student can look forward to receiving a financial aid package that will work towards reaching the goal of meeting 8000 in financial need with available financial aid the student qualifies for. Where Unmet Need comes into play, is in the difference between a Financial Aid Award, and Financial Need.

Financial Need – Financial Aid Awarded  = Unmet Need

For example, lets again suppose your financial need is still $8000. However, your financial aid package totals $7000, your unmet need is $1000.  Now it’s important to keep in mind that most financial aid offers will not meet a students, entire calculated financial need. This is because federal program has annual and lifetime limits. Most schools do not have enough funds to meet the financial needs of everyone admitted. The difference between the total UNMET NEED, and the financial aid awarded, is considered the amount students and families must pay themselves, in addition to the expected family contribution. So in reality, the actually amount a student will pay for school, is the combination of a students EFC, and the unmet need.


Since even in the best of scenarios the financial aid formula will barely cost the cost of a students education, it important to make the most of you financial aid potential. So here’s a quick tip: Don’t just accept the financial aid offer you were given, appeal it instead! Lots of things change thorough the year that can cause your financial aid situation to change. layoffs, work slowdowns, changes in jobs and career, and slow downs in business can affect what a students EFC is. So if a student or parent has had any major life change, contact your financial aid office and ask about appealing your financial aid award. It could make all the difference between meeting you financial need, and not being able to attend at all.

Have a problem with financial aid or scholarships? go ahead and send JR a tweet @ CollegeCashMan. Thanks for listening to JR’s Two Minute Financial Aid Tips at www.collegemoneyman.com.

The College Money Man Podcast, and JR’s Two Minute Tips are available for subscription for FREE via iTunes, and Stitcher. New episodes of 2-Minute Tips are released everyday Monday thru Friday, and our weekly broadcast is released each Wednesday. Subscribe, like, and comment! Download and get your dose of financial aid help on the go.


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