It depends on the college you pick. Although EFC means Expected Family Contribution, a 0 EFC doesn't mean that you won't have to pay. It means that 0 is the amount you would need to pay before you became eligible for need based aid. But there is no requirement that a college meet your full financial need, and most don't. With a 0 EFC, you can expect to receive the maximum Pell grant ($6195 per year). You will also be offered some federal student loans. The amount will be based on your grade level and dependency status. For example, a dependent freshman will be offered $5,500. You might also be offered some aid from other sources, such as state grants and loans, or scholarships from the school's own resources. If you're attending a low cost college, like a community college, you might have enough aid to cover the bill. But at a more expensive public or private college, it's likely that you will still have a gap after your aid is applied to the bill. For example, at the University where I work, the bill for an on-campus, in-state student is apx. $23,000 and a student with a 0 EFC will generally receive about $18,000 in financial aid. That means that the student still has to come up with the remaining $5000 on his own. Typically, they do that by applying for a federal Parent PLUS loan or a private loan from a bank or credit union. So, yes it's possible to go to college for free with a 0 EFC, but it's not really very likely at most colleges.