An important Step One to receiving need-based financial aid from colleges is to complete the FAFSA. The information you report on your FAFSA is used to calculate your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). That will give you your EFC which is subtracted from the total cost of attendance (COA) of the institution. The remaining balance is called your 'need'. You can’t receive more need-based aid than the amount of your financial need. For instance, if your COA is $22,000 and your EFC is 12,000, your financial need is $10,000; so you aren’t eligible for more than $10,000 in need-based aid.