Just as you think you are getting closer to the end of the financial aid process, you find out there is yet another step. This time you receive something called a Student Aid Report, or SAR. The document comes from the Department of Education, and is a summary of the information you provided when you completed the FAFSA.
This may be an electronic or paper document. You might receive an email notification (if you provided a valid email address on the FAFSA) with a link to obtain your SAR, or you can log into your FAFSA form and select, “View your Student Aid Report” from the “My FAFSA” page. If you did not provide a valid email address, you will receive either a paper SAR or a SAR Acknowledgement in the mail, but you can also sign in online if you have an FSA ID.
It may take up to three weeks for you to receive this document, but the school or schools you listed on your FAFSA form will have access to your SAR data electronically within a day after it is processed. Information contained on the Student Aid Report includes:
- Summary of the information provided on your FAFSA.
- Current federal student loans.
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC), if your application is complete and fully processed. If you do not see an EFC, look for what you need to do to resolve any issues in the “What You Must Do Now” section of your SAR.
- Estimated eligibility for federal student loans and Federal Pell Grants
- Notice of whether the FAFSA you submitted has been selected for verification. If you have been selected for verification, look for an asterisk by the EFC.
- A four-digit Data Release Number (DRN). You will need this number if you choose to allow your college or career school to change certain information on your FAFSA form or include their school code on your application.
You need to review your SAR carefully to make sure it is correct, and to determine whether it has been selected for verification. If you do find a mistake, you will need to immediately correct or update your FAFSA form. If there is a mistake like an error in your current address, you can update that information at the FAFSA site. A major error, like an incorrect Social Security Number, however, might mean that you will have to submit a new application. Contact your school’s financial aid office to let them know about the error, and determine exactly what steps you need to take now.
The school or schools you listed on your FAFSA will use your information to determine your eligibility for certain forms of financial aid. A college may also ask you to verify the accuracy of certain FAFSA data. Don’t neglect to review the checklist in the “What You Must Do Now” section, and make sure all issues have been resolved. If you need assistance, contact your school’s financial aid office. If you do not have any changes to make to the information listed on your SAR, just keep it for your records.
You cannot change any information as it relates to your 2020 financial status and income tax return. If your financial situation changed substantially in 2021 due to COVID, job loss, death, natural disaster, divorce, or other personal upheaval, you should contact each college directly to explain your current status. You may be required to provide additional documentation or proof, which they can check to verify your updated financial capabilities.
Keep in mind that this is not a financial aid offer. That comes only from the colleges to which you have applied. CFAA is here to help with every step of the financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing your Student Air Report and working through the verification process.
Set up a CFAA new client free strategy session 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 weekly JustAskJodi emails and check out my monthly CFAA e-newsletter.