Once you have completed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the next step is receiving a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the Department of Education that summarizes the information you provided and lists your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is compared against the Cost of Attendance (COA) at each college to determine the amount of financial aid that is required.
This is an important document that will be used by various colleges to determine the amount of financial aid your child might be entitled to receive. If the information accurately reflects your current financial position, your student could receive federal, state, and institutional financial aid to help pay for college. It is very important to check this document carefully to make sure there are no mistakes that could affect your financial future.
If you provided an email address when completing your FAFSA, you will receive an email notification that your SAR is ready to be accessed, usually within about two weeks. Be sure the email address, FederalStudentAidFAFSA@cpsemail.ed.gov, is included in your contacts so your notification doesn’t go into to your spam folder. Accessing your SAR involves visiting the same site where you completed the FAFSA, logging in using your FSA PIN, and clicking on “View Your Student Aid Report.” If you did not supply an email address, or your information is not complete, you will receive either the SAR or a SAR Acknowledgement by mail. Once you receive your SAR, here are a few steps you need to take:
• Look for the Expected Family Contribution (EFC): This number usually appears in the upper right-hand corner of the SAR. If there is no amount listed, your application was incomplete and you will need to take some further action.
• Look for your Data Release Number (DRN): This is a four digit number which will appear either in the upper right-hand corner on a paper SAR or in a box with the Application Receipt Date on the electronic version. You will need to supply this number to any colleges if you want them to change certain FAFSA information.
• Check the Information Carefully: Make sure the information listed is what you think you entered. It is possible that you made some type of entry mistake that could affect your financial aid outcome.
• Review the List of Schools: Check to see that all of your child’s prospective colleges are listed on the SAR, or they will not receive a copy of your financial information.
• Make Necessary Changes: If information is missing or incomplete, you may need to make some changes to your FAFSA. You may also be able to change information if your situation has changed after submitting the application.
Although there are still many factors that are taken into consideration, such as scholarships, the SAR is generally the first step in determining how much your family will be expected to pay to send your child to college.