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Financial aid packaging

This slide show is designed to introduce you to the way the University of Minnesota awards financial aid.

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Cost of attendance

The cost of attendence (COA) is an estimate of average costs to attend the University. It includes much more than just tuition and fees. See About cost estimates to learn more, and then, Estimating your costs.

Estimated family contribution

The estimated family contribution (EFC) is a dollar figure calculated by the federal government based on your FAFSA. It is the amount of money that your family is expected to contribute to your education. This figure is forwarded automatically to the schools you identified on your FAFSA.

Financial need

Financial need is the amount of assistance that the federal government calculates your family will need in order to meet your costs for the year at the University.

Three examples of financial need

The higher your EFC, the lower your financial need, and the more the federal government expects your family to cover your cost of attendance.

Once the University has received your completed FAFSA results, we begin to pull together federal, state, and University funding resources for you to consider.


In a process known as packaging, we combine state, federal, and University resources to make you the best offer possible.

Our packaging principles are:

  1. Give students the most beneficial awards for which they qualify.
  2. Provide the neediest students with the most resources.
  3. Support middle-income families: every student with family income up to $100,000 receives some form of gift aid.

The following slides illustrate a family wtih high financial need. Starting with slide 10 you'll see an example for a family with no financial need.

Grants and scholarships

The University always offers as much grant and scholarship funding as a student can get. These awards are the most beneficial form of aid, so they are applied first to your financial aid package.

Merit-based scholarships are selected by Admissions, your college, or your academic department. Other scholarships may be awarded later on.

Most grant awards are automatic based on your need, but there are some that require you to complete additional application steps.


You may be offered a work-study award, if you requested it on your FAFSA. The award lets you pursue a part-time, campus-based job.

A work-study award pledges to pay some of your wages on the employer's behalf with state or federal dollars.

The University encourages you and all students to consider part-time employment. It's a great way to gain work experience, and it makes your education more affordable.

Subsidized loan

These are need-based loans. Subsidized loans always fit in the "Financial Need" space in your financial aid package. The subsidy covers the loan's interest while you are in school, and may have other advantages, depending on the loan you are offered.

Unsubsidized loan

Unsubsidized loans are usually used to replace the EFC, should you choose to. These loans are available to nearly all students, and, while their terms are still relatively attractive, they are not subsidized, and, therefore, the interest on the loan begins to accrue immediately.

Some families don't qualify for need-based aid

Based on the federal formula a number of families who do not qualify for need-based financial aid. Their EFC is equal to or greater than the COA (cost of attendence). Yet these families may still want to finance a University education via student loans, rather than paying out of pocket.

Financial aid for a family with no need

Families may elect to simply pay all or a portion of the cost of attendance. They can also try to reduce actual costs by making lifestyle choices to lower their students' expenses, such as not having a car, or living at home.

Parent loans are available, regardless of need.

Unsubsidized loans are available regardless of need.

Most merit-based scholarships are awarded regardless of financial need.