Shopping Sheet Guide

The University of Central Florida is providing the Shopping Sheet as part of the Principles of Excellence, a presidential directive for the U.S. Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education to establish a set of principles to enhance consumer protection for service members, veterans, and other military personnel and their families regarding the use of veteran and military education benefits.

The Shopping Sheet is a college cost comparison tool to help prospective students compare aid offers from different schools based on their “Estimated Net Cost” after grants and/or scholarships. It also presents financial aid data and estimated costs in a standardized format.

The shopping sheet is not meant to replace the award offer from UCF or any other school. Instead, it is a tool whereby prospective undergraduate students are provided a clear, direct comparison between participating schools as they make a college choice.

Defining Terms

The shopping sheet divides and displays costs and aid in some rather unique ways. It is important to understand the breakdown of the information in order to make the Shopping Sheet as helpful as possible.

  • Estimated Cost of Attendance – These are your budgeted UCF costs for an academic year. While some cost areas may be more or less expensive based on your personal choices, this listing is an estimation (not actual) of your costs.
  • Grants and Scholarships – These are student aid funds that do not have to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit-based.
  • Net Costs – This is an estimate of the calculated educational costs that you or your family will need to pay during the school year to cover education expenses. Net costs are determined by taking the institution’s cost of attendance and subtracting your grants and scholarships.
  • Work Options (Federal Work Study Program) – This is a federal student aid need-based program that provides part-time employment while you are enrolled in school to help pay your education expenses.
  • Loan Options – Borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. Loans from the federal government typically have a lower interest rate than loans from private lenders. Although the loan amounts stated on your Shopping Sheet list the maximum amounts that you are eligible to borrow, we recommend not borrowing the maximum if you have sufficient aid or other means of covering your expenses. Borrowing what you need will diminish the amount of loans you will have to repay upon graduation. Students and families are encouraged to examine your expenses as well as all resources when creating your budget to determine how much (if any) loan funding you elect to accept.
  • Other Options/Family Contribution – Family Contribution, also referred to as Expected Family Contribution (EFC), is based on the financial information you provided on in your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. The EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR). The EFC is the amount the Department of Education expects the student and/or family to be able to contribute toward educational expenses over the course of the academic year. It is also used to determine Pell Grant eligibility and other need-based funding eligibility.

Average Statistics

The blocks on the right-hand side of the Shopping Sheet offer the latest averages from the Department of Education for graduation, loan default rates, and median loan borrowing for UCF students. These numbers are only indications. As with any average, there are those students who are below these marks and others who are above them.

Available Assistance

The Shopping Sheet can be helpful as a direct comparison tool between schools. However, it does not replace your understanding of awarded aid, eligibility requirements, and overall costs you will encounter.

We encourage you to use the information and many resources within our website as you prepare for the expense of college. Our staff are always willing to assist you as you go through the financial aid application process.

NOTE: Students who have not applied for federal student aid, can and should complete the online FAFSA at

If you are a current UCF student, your award information on myUCF is the best way to view your current financial aid package.