The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) allows prospective undergrad and grad students to apply for federal student aid.
What most students don’t know, however, is what the Student Aid Report (SAR) is and what they need to do with the SAR once they receive it.
Simply put, the SAR is a summary of all the details that you provided when you applied for federal aid via FAFSA. More importantly, however, is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) contained within the report.
This is the single most important number that will be used to determine what aid programs you are eligible for – assuming all the information in the SAR is correct.
In simple term, your EFC may be more or less than what you actually end up paying for college.
The SAR typically arrives in the email you registered in the FAFSA within three to five days. If you applied by mail and/or did not provide an email address, then it will arrive seven to ten days after the FAFSA has been processed.1
Note that you must review your SAR completely and thoroughly. If there are errors, then you need to correct that information before you push through with anything else. Errors in your SAR can affect your EFC and your financial aid eligibility.
Check your SAR for the following:
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – Look for your EFC near the top right corner.
- Verification Selection – If you were selected for verification, you will find an asterisk (*) after your EFC and instructions on what you need to do.
If you need to make corrections to your SAR, you can do so online using your PIN, by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov and selecting “Make Corrections to a Processed FAFSA.”
Once your SAR has been verified, it will be sent to the schools you have listed in your FAFSA. This will allow them to check your eligibility for student aid and decide whether to award you with the aid or not. Once you have been chosen, however, you will receive an award letter from the 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. You may also find yourself eligible for aid from the state and other institutions, wherein a combination of these forms of aid will form your financial aid package.
You might even be lucky enough to receive multiple award letters. You can only accept one award letter, though, so make sure to carefully compare award letters and choose the one which you think will suit best your needs.
If you have questions about your student financial aid award. it’s best that you contact the financial aid office at the school(s) that sent you an award letter.
- Your SAR sometimes gets mixed up in the junk or spam folders of email addresses. You might want to check whether those folders on a regular basis or add FederalStudentAidFAFSA@cpsemail.ed.gov to your address book to avoid this problem. [↩]