Congratulations if you are one of the prepared families that have already submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This is the first step in determining eligibility for federal, state, and institutional financial aid. The next step is that you will receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR.
You can view your SAR by logging in to your FAFSA form and selecting “View SAR” from the “My FAFSA” page. You might receive an email link to an online copy if you provided an email address on your FAFSA form, or a paper copy might be mailed to you. Schools receive this information relatively quickly, but applicants usually have access to the online form in about 3-5 days after the FAFSA is processed. Paper forms take a little longer.
This document is based on the information in your FAFSA. It provides preliminary insights into your eligibility for federal financial aid. The information is sent to each college on your list, and the financial aid office at each institution determines your eligibility to receive the financial aid they have available to offer you, based on their specific criteria. Each college may make different financial aid offers. It is important that you review your SAR, and also correct certain mistakes that may have been made:
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC): This number appears in the upper right-hand corner of the SAR. If there is no EFC, your FAFSA is not complete. The EFC is an index that is used to help colleges gauge your family’s ability to pay for education costs. Keep in mind that this is not the final determinant, and does not include your eligibility for state and institutional financial assistance.
- Verification: Look for an asterisk next to the EFC to determine if your application has been selected for verification purposes. This does not mean you have done anything wrong. Some selections are random, and some colleges verify a good majority of applications. It does mean that additional information is required, and should be submitted as soon as possible.
- Data Release Number (DRN): Use this number to communicate with college financial aid offices or the Federal Student Aid Information Center if you need to make changes to your mailing address, or have the SAR sent to a college.
- What You Must Do Now: Look here, especially if your FAFSA is incomplete, to find information about what you need to do to complete your application. There may also be instructions on what to do if you’ve made an error in your FAFSA.
- FAFSA Data: This is a summary of your answers to the FAFSA questions. Review this information to make sure it accurately reflects your financial situation.
- School Information: This is where you will see the colleges you designated on your FAFSA to receive your SAR. You’ll also find information about graduation rates, retention rates and transfer rates. You can add colleges if you submitted more applications after completing the FAFSA.
- Financial Aid History: If this is not your first year in college, you will see a summary of any outstanding federal student loans, any reported aid you shared in your FAFSA, as well as your estimated eligibility for Pell Grants and federal student loans for the upcoming year.
If you find a mistake when reviewing your SAR, you will need to correct or update your FAFSA form. You can correct your Social Security Number, update contact information and dependency status, and add or delete schools. Some information can only be changed if you are selected for verification. You cannot update financial information. If your situation changed, contact schools directly and provide supporting documentation they can use in making their final decision.
CFAA is there for the entire financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. Schedule a CFAA new client free strategy session or a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college. To get the latest financial aid information and college application to-do lists, look for my bi-weekly JustAskJodi emails and check out my monthly CFAA e-newsletter.