The needs analysis formula is the starting point for determining eligibility for financial aid. Each component of the formula is made up of several factors:

Cost of Attendance -(Minus) EFC =(Equals) Financial Need
  • Tuition & Fees
  • Room & Board
  • Books & Supplies
  • Misc. Expenses
  • Travel
  • Parent Contribution
  • Student Contribution from Assets
  • Student Contribution from Summer Earnings
  • Work-Study
  • Federal or State Grants
  • University Scholarship

We start by setting a budget, or Cost of Attendance, for the academic year. Next, we calculate the family's share of college costs called the Expected Family Contribution, or EFC for short. Upon subtracting the EFC from the budget, we are able to determine the student's Financial Need. Brown's financial aid award will be equal to your Financial Need.

It is important that you understand how we arrive at the EFC, as Brown University awards financial aid to supplement, not to replace, your family's ability to pay. The Expected Family Contribution is calculated using two standard methodologies for needs analysis: Federal Methodology and Institutional Methodology.

  • Federal Methodology (FM) - This formula is used to determine eligibility for all federal aid, including Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, Work-study, and most state scholarship aid. The EFC is determined from the data provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and verified using data from federal tax returns and other supplemental documents. FM excludes some forms of income and expenses, and eliminates some assets from consideration, when calculating the EFC. 


  • Institutional Methodology (IM) - Most colleges and universities awarding institutional scholarship funds use some variation of the Institutional Methodology as established by the College Board. In using IM, Brown University adheres to a number of additional policies when reviewing each student's eligibility for scholarship assistance. This analysis includes several income and asset factors not considered in FM. We believe in most instances that this method of needs analysis more accurately determines a family's ability to pay for education. Typically, this EFC will appear on your award letter from the University. However, there are situations where the IM calculation may actually be lower than the FM calculation due to slight differences in the tables and indexes used to calculate the contribution. Given that Brown awards federal funds, we must use the higher FM calculation in such instances.

A Financial Aid Calculator  that will allow you to estimate your EFC for both FM and IM is available on our website.

At Brown, financial aid is one of our highest priorities. Therefore, we have developed a number of Financial Aid initiatives, unique to Brown that can positively impact the EFC and/or the award. Detailed information about these initiatives is available in the Overview section of our website.