How Need is Determined

How Need is Determined

Financial Need is calculated based on a formula developed by the federal government.The formula uses three factors to determine need, Cost of Attendance (COA), Student Aid Index (SAI) and Other Financial Assistance (OFA).

***Please note that the U.S. Department of Education made significant changes to the formula starting with the 24-25 application cycle. The information on this page explains how need is determined beginning with the 24-25 FAFSA.

For information on how need is determined on the 23-24 FAFSA and prior, visit***

The Cost of Attendance (COA) is determined using rules established by law to help students understand the costs associated with attending school.

The COA includes direct costs and indirect expenses. 

Direct Costs include:

  • Tuition and fees
  • On campus room and board (for students residing on campus)

Indirect Expenses include:

  • A housing and food allowance for students residing off campus
  • An allowance for books, course materials, supplies, equipment, transportation and miscellaneous personal expenses

The COA is not your bill. To view the COA for the current academic year, click here.

For actual costs for tuition, fees, housing and food, please visit

Student Aid Index (SAI)

Your Student Aid Index (SAI) is calculated from the information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is an indexing number used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine a student's grant eligibility/financial need.

Please Note: The SAI is not the amount the family is expected to contribute towards a student’s education, but rather a measure of a student's family’s approximate financial resources to contribute toward their post secondary education for a specific year. 

The following are a few of the factors considered in determining your SAI:

  • Your family’s income (taxed and untaxed)
  • Assets and benefits (including, net worth of investments, a business or unemployment benefits, etc.)
  • Your household size

We offer financial aid based on the following formula provided by the federal government:

Cost of Attendance (COA) Minus Student Aid Index (SAI) Minus Other Financial Assistance (OFA) Equals Need 

Your financial need is used to determine your eligibility for certain aid programs including, but not limited to the Federal Pell Grant Program, the Federal Work Study Program, the Federal Direct Subsidized Loan Program and the State Tuition Aid Grant Program. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Parent Loans for Undergraduate Dependent Students (PLUS loans) and private/alternative loan resources are not based on need, but are considered part of a financial aid package.

Note: All combined financial aid may not exceed the COA as determined by the university.

*Your need is not how much money you will receive to pay your bill.

Subtract your financial aid from your bill, which can be viewed on the goStockton Portal to determine how much money you will need to pay your bill.

Use the Bill Estimator to estimate your direct costs.

After applying for financial aid, you may still have a balance with the Bursar's Office.

Here are three different options to help close the gap.