Financial need is determined using a simple formula:

COST OF ATTENDANCE - RESOURCES ($ you have) = FINANCIAL NEED ($ you can receive)

Your student expense budget (i.e., cost of attendance) will be determined by each individual institution. At UC Davis you will be given a single-student budget regardless of your marital or family status. A calculation of your resources is done based upon the application information you provide to the school. You will have a calculated student contribution (SC).

Some federal programs require the calculation of the parent contribution (PC) in determining whether you qualify for that particular program funds. By providing parent information you increase your potential eligibility for this type of aid to assist in meeting your financial need. To conserve funds for students with the highest need, the PC will be used to reduce financial need. 

Calculations of the SC and PC will be based upon current assets and prior-prior year income (e.g., 2022 calendar year for the 2024-25 school year). The treatment of assets and base-year income is liberal for those of you who are married with children or are single parents. This liberal treatment which results in a substantially reduced resource contribution tries to offset the reduction in need that results from not recognizing spousal and dependent expenses in the student budget. There are situations where the standard calculation of financial need will not yield a realistic result:

  • your base-year income was high but your income during the school year will be low
  • you are a single parent and have little if any resources
  • you are married with children, your spouse is not in school and you have little income

These types of situations might suggest you speak with a staff member at the UC Davis Financial Aid Office. They have the legal authority to make reasonable changes to your budget and resource calculations.