You’ve finished filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid! Now what? First, the information in your FAFSA is submitted to the Department of Education’s Central Processing System.
That’s where it all begins.
If your application is complete, you and the financial aid offices of up to ten schools listed on your FAFSA will receive an e-mail with a link to an online copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) — usually within 3 to 5 days.
If you have an FSA ID, you may also access your Student Aid Report (SAR) through FAFSA on the Web or the myStudentAid app.
What does the Student Aid Report tell you? #
Your SAR is a paper or electronic document that specifies your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) — a very important number that will determine your need and eligibility for aid.
Starting in the 2024—25 academic year, the Expected Family Contribution is being eliminated in favor of a new Student Aid Index. The SAI, unlike the EFC, may be a negative number, with the lowest possible amount of -1,500.
If your application is incomplete, your SAR will not include an EFC, but it will display text that specifies any issues that need to be resolved. Here’s how to make corrections to your FAFSA!
If the SAR does not arrive within three weeks, call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or login to StudentAid.gov to inquire about the status of your FAFSA.
Next, using the information on your student aid report, the schools will then determine your financial need and prepare a financial aid award package for you and soon after, the award letter, if you’re chosen.
How long does it take to get my financial aid award letter? #
Most schools send out financial aid award letter, as well as an offer of admission, one to three months after receiving your FAFSA information, usually in late March to early April but can vary from school to school.
Each school’s award letter is phrased differently, but you should expect to see what type of aid and how much of it you will be getting if you decide to accept the admission.
Depending on the types and amount of financial aid for which you are eligible, your package may include a mixture of grants, scholarships, work-study programs, college-sponsored aid, and federal loans.
What happens if I’m selected for FAFSA verification? #
In some random cases, your school or Federal Student Aid may ask you to verify the accuracy of the information you provide on the FAFSA. If you were selected for verification, you will find an asterisk (*) after your EFC and instructions on what you need to do.