When your FAFSA is scored, there are certain criteria that automatically result in an EFC score of 0.
Zero is the lowest possible score, and a score of 0 means that you are qualified for the greatest possible amount of federal financial aid.
First of all, with an EFC of zero, you will receive the maximum amount of Pell Grant, which is $4,731 for this year. That amount will be awarded to you in halves, one in the first semester, and the other in the spring.
You are also qualified for another grant, the FSEOG grant (Federal Supplemental Equal Opportunity Grant). This grant is a little more difficult to pin down than the Pell, because the Pell amount is awarded strictly on the basis of your EFC score, and it doesn't matter how many other students at your school qualify for Pell grants - you'll still get the full $4731 Pell. A certain amount of FSEOG money is doled out to every school each year, and the financial aid office is free to divide the money up amongst the eligible students. If you want to get in on the FSEOG purse, it's critical that you file your financial aid documents as early as possible each year. That's the only way to ensure that you'll receive FSEOG money.
A low EFC score also qualifies you for another federal aid program - work-study.
Though your school may have some work-study leads, each work-study student is personally responsible for finding his/her own job. You'll need to apply for the position (like any other candidate), interview (like any other candidate) and show up for work and do a good job (like any other candidate). If you find a good part time job, you'll receive a regular paycheck that can be used to help pay your college expenses. What's the catch?
The catch is that the government promises employers that they (the government) will pay part of your salary if the employer chooses to hire you - if you think about that, that's a great reason for someone to hire you and not another applicant. One area where you'll probably be able to find this type of opportunity is in tutoring programs through the local school system.
You will also be qualified to borrow the maximum amount of the most favorable type of government-backed educational loans - these are the "subsidized" Stafford loans.
The Stafford loan program is far and away the largest form of government backed student financial aid, and there are 2 types of Stafford loans, subsidized and unsubsidized. The difference between the two is important - with a subsidized loan, the government pays the interest on the loan from the day you receive the money, until you finish school and begin to pay the loan back. With the unsubsidized loan, the interest goes unpaid while you're in school, and simply adds up - to be paid back later. A subsidized loan can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in interest payments over the repayment of the loan.
With an EFC of zero, you may also qualify for certain state grants and institutional assistance that is specific to your school. Your best source of information is the financial aid office of your college or university, but I have attached a link to a great booklet from the federal government that explains just about anything you could ever want to know about paying for a post-secondary education.
I hope this all helped - good luck!