What is the Student Aid Index (SAI)?
In March 2022, new legislation called the FAFSA Simplification Act mandated significant changes to the FAFSA, the main application for college financial aid. As part of those changes, new terminology was born, including the Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI is a calculated number, based on the data that a family inputs into the FAFSA and a calculation set by Congress, and is designed to represent the family's financial strength and their ability to pay for college. The SAI replaces the formerly used Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
What's in a Name?
EFC became SAI because the term "Expected Family Contribution" caused confusion. Many families believed the EFC represented the amount they owed to the college. In truth, the EFC (and now the SAI) was used by schools only to determine the amount of financial aid a student was eligible to receive. Families often owed more (though sometimes less) than the EFC amount. Changing the name will hopefully avoid some of that confusion.
Colleges and the SAI
When a student submits a FAFSA, every college that receives the application will input the student's FAFSA data into the SAI calculation (called federal methodology) to generate an SAI for that student. The school will then subtract the student's SAI from the college cost (called the Cost of Attendance (COA)) to determine the student's eligibility for financial aid.
Colleges will do their best to fill in the student's financial aid eligibility with financial aid funds from federal, state, and institutional sources. But they often can't fill in the entire amount.
Calculating Your SAI
We have an SAI Calculator that can provide you an estimate of your SAI. Once you submit the FAFSA, your confirmation page will also display your SAI. The SAI calculation takes into account student and parent income, student and parent assets, and the family size. The number can be as low as -$1,500 and can reach much higher than any college's cost of attendance.
If you have any questions about your SAI, or the financial aid process in general, reach out to our College Planning Team. You can find them at email@example.com or (800) 449-MEFA (6332).