How Awards are Determined

Towson University offers a variety of merit-based and need-based aid programs.

Merit-based scholarship recipients are selected based on a competitive evaluation of their academic qualifications.  For more information, see Scholarships.

Eligibility for need-based aid is based on the formula outlined below.  Because our funding is limited, we direct our need-based grants to toward students with higher financial need.

Financial Need Formula

We base need-based aid offers on the following federal eligibility formula:

Estimated Cost of Attendance Budget
- Student Aid Index (SAI)
= Financial Need

The financial aid process strives to provide students with enough aid to meet their calculated financial need, but this is often not possible because of limited federal, state, and institutional funds. When we award need-based aid, we also consider your other scholarships, grants, and educational benefits.

Cost of Attendance (COA) Budgets

Cost of Attendance Budgets are an estimate of your educational and living expenses for one academic year (Fall & Spring Terms). They include estimates of Direct Costs and Indirect Expenses.

  • Direct Costs:  Tuition and other mandatory fees, on-campus housing and meal plan charges
  • Indirect Expenses:  Books and supplies, personal and transportation expenses, and off campus room and board costs
  • Your total aid cannot exceed your COA budget.
  • Your actual TU bill will be much less than your COA budget because TU will only bill you for Direct Costs.

Student Aid Index (SAI)

The U.S. Department of Education calculates your Student Aid Index (SAI) by applying a congressional formula to the data on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). To review your SAI or FAFSA data, visit

If you have questions about the SAI formula, call the Federal Student Aid Hotline at 1-800-4-FEDAID (1-800-433-3243).

Before 2024-2025, the SAI was called an Expected Family Contribution (EFC).