Determining Need

The primary responsibility for financing an undergraduate college education rests with students and their parents. For graduate students, the responsibility rests with students and, if applicable, their spouses. Eligibility for financial aid is based on the following formula:

Cost of Attendance
- Expected Family Contribution
- Scholarships/Other Resources (includes any awards from agencies other than Student Financial Services)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
= Need for financial aid

The Cost of Attendance (COA), which is determined each year by the University's Board of Visitors and Student Financial Services, represents the estimated total cost of attending the University for one year. COA includes direct charges, such as tuition, room, meal plan, and fees, as well as indirect costs like books and supplies, living expenses, and travel money.

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated using federal guidelines and University policies and is based on information submitted on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and additional documents submitted to U. Va. The EFC has a parent and a student component. The parents' and student's contributions are based on their income and assets, which include cash, checking, savings, and money market accounts; their investments and real estate holdings other than their primary residence; their untaxed income; and their business equity.

The email award notification that students receive from U.Va. lists the types and amounts of grants, work-study, loans, and scholarships awarded. U.Va. will meet 100% of students' demonstrated need through a combination of grants (from federal, state, and institutional sources), federal need-based loans, and federal work-study. For a list of items that may impact a financial aid award, click here.

Two important things to note:

  1. The total amount of financial aid students receive, including outside resources such as scholarships, cannot exceed their cost of attending the University.
  2. It is possible for students' EFC to be greater than their cost of attending the University; in this case, they do not demonstrate eligibility for need-based financial aid. However, financial aid programs such as the unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan, the Direct (Parent) PLUS Loan, and alternative loans, are available to students regardless of their financial need.

 

Divorced or Separated Parents of Undergraduate Students

In cases where parents are divorced or separated, the University expects both custodial and non-custodial parents to contribute to their children's educational costs based on their financial ability.

 

Independent Undergraduate Students

The federal financial aid program defines some applicants as self-supporting independent students. Students are considered independent for federal aid purposes when they meet one or more of the following definitions:

they are 24 years of age or older
they are graduate or professional students
they are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
they are an orphan, foster child or a ward of the court
they are legally married
they are currently serving on active duty for purposes other than training
they are emancipated or under a legal guardianship
they have legal dependents other than a spouse for whom they provide more than half the support
they have a child for whom they provide more than half the support
they are a homeless unaccompanied youth

Undergraduate students cannot declare themselves independent of their parents due to family disagreement, living arrangements, or parents' unwillingness to contribute to the costs of their education. For more information about completing the FAFSA as an independent student, click here.

In most cases, independent students for whom the costs of attending the University are high are offered additional federal loan awards.

 

Reevaluation of Expected Family Contribution

Student Financial Services wants to be responsive to unique family situations, within the limits of federal regulations and University policies. We will consider an Appeal for Reconsideration when:

A family experiences a change in their financial situation, such as death of a parent or unemployment; or
A family has an extenuating circumstance or hardship that was not addressed in the initial review.

 

Appeal for Reconsideration

If you have circumstances you believe should be evaluated, please review our Appeals for Reconsideration page to determine if you are eligible to file an appeal.