After you have filed a FAFSA for the 2021-22 academic year, the next step in the college financial aid process is that you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). This is a paper or electronic document that will give you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student financial aid. It recaps your answers to the questions on the FAFSA, and contains other important information. It is important to carefully review this important college financial aid document, as the colleges you listed on your FAFSA will also receive this information. Here are some things you need to know about the SAR:
How to Get Your SAR
- If you provided an email address with your FAFSA, you will receive an email that contains instructions about how to access an online copy of your Student Aid Report.
- If you did not provide an email address with your FAFSA, you will receive a paper SAR or SAR Acknowledgement form in the mail.
- If you do not want to wait, you can log in at fafsa.gov using your FSA ID to view your SAR. It will be available once your FAFSA is processed.
When to Expect Your SAR
- If you filed a complete FAFSA online using an FSA ID, and provided an email address, you should receive a SAR in about 3-5 days.
- If you filed a FAFSA online, but did not provide an email address, it could take 7-10 days.
- If you filed a paper FAFSA, if may take up to two weeks.
Three Things to Look For on Your SAR
- Expected Family Contribution: The EFC will be shown in the upper right-hand corner of the SAR. If no EFC is displayed, you will need to resolve any issues with your FAFSA. Based on certain calculations, this is an estimate of what your family will be expected to contribute to the cost of your education; however, the final financial aid offer is determined by each individual college. If your EFC is calculated as 0, you should be entitled to receive the maximum amount of federal student aid available.
- Data Release Number: The DRN is a four-digit number which also appears in the upper right hand corner. You will need this number if you choose to allow a college to change certain information on your FAFSA.
- Verification: Your SAR might also contain a note indicating that you’ve been selected for verification. This means that additional information is required. Be sure to submit this documentation as quickly as possible.
If you find that all information is correct after reviewing your SAR, you just need to keep it for future reference. If you find a mistake, you can correct or update certain information on your FAFSA form, but this will change the submission date for your application. Income information that was input using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool cannot be changed. In the event of an amended tax return, you may be able to ask your college to help update this information.
In this year of COVID, many families are concerned that the projected EFC listed for them is not truly representative of their current economic situation. This is because the FAFSA was completed using information from 2019, when their financial picture was probably in much better condition. In this case, it is important to contact your potential colleges as soon as possible to explain your family’s current financial capabilities.
Be prepared to provide background information, and any documentation that you have available. You’ll want to submit any information about furloughs, layoffs, damage from natural disasters, medical bills, deaths or divorce. The colleges may take this into consideration when making their final financial award decisions.
Once you have done everything you can in terms of the FAFSA and SAR, it is very important to keep up with your search for scholarships to fill any anticipated financial gaps. The CFAA Scholarship Program can help you locate, organize and apply to personalized scholarship opportunities. For the latest financial aid information and college application to-do lists, look for my weekly JustAskJodi emails and check out my monthly CFAA e-newsletter.