The goal of financial aid is to help students obtain funds to meet their "need". Need is a calculation that is performed by the financial aid office. Financial Aid determines an estimated cost of attendance based on your student status, we receive your EFC when your FAFSA is processed and need is merely the difference of the two figures.
A student's financial aid cost of attendance is $19,000
The student's EFC as determined from FAFSA is $4,500.
The student's need is $14,500 ($19,000-$4,500)