After you fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA), you will receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR. This happens about four to six weeks after you submit it (2-3 weeks if done on the Web).
This report summarizes the information you provided on the FAFSA, and indicates the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). It is also sent to the schools you listed for their review as part of their financial aid packages.
So What Do I Do Once I Get It?
Check It For Accuracy. Once you receive the SAR, it would be a good idea to review it for accuracy. There might be mistakes in what you submitted or in how that information was transposed into the Department of Education's database. You can also update the information if needed.
For example, if you filled out the FAFSA before you filed your tax return, you can amend the income information (if necessary) after you do. Changes can be made by going to www.FAFSA.gov, but you should also keep your school's financial aid administrator in the loop, so that he or she does not make critical decisions based on inaccurate information.
Use It to Track Your Borrowing. In addition, the last page of the SAR includes information about your financial aid history, like the loans you have taken out. Since one of the many mistakes people make with student loans and financial aid is that they fail to keep track of their borrowing, it might be a good idea to review that as well. You can also get this information from the Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System.
Add Any Additional Schools You're Looking At. Since the federal processor will send a copy of your SAR to each of the schools you listed on the FAFSA, if you later decide that you want to consider additional schools, you should be sure to add them to the list.
If you are looking for more information about federal financial aid for college, then download my free book, Applying for Federal Financial Aid: The Definitive Guide for Students and Parents.
For more information about what happens after you graduate, get my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing with Your Student Loans.
You can also access the latest news on student loans, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and read articles in my Library. Continue to educate yourself as you go through the process of making smart decisions about college financing!