Have you completed your FAFSA? Congratulations! But you’re not quite done yet. Your next step is to look for your federal Student Aid Report. This document, commonly known as a SAR, is sent to you after you complete your FAFSA.
Your Student Aid Report contains several important pieces of information:
- Whether your FAFSA was completed successfully – or still needs work
- Your Expected Family Contribution, better known as an EFC
- Information about what financial aid you are eligible for
- A record of your responses to the FAFSA questions
- A list of the schools you selected in your FAFSA to receive your information
Once you get your Student Aid Report, read it carefully. It includes information colleges will rely on to determine whether or not you are eligible for financial aid. It also estimates how much and what kind of aid you may receive.
For the important highlights, read our Q&A:
Q: When will I get my Student Aid Report?
A: It depends. If you filed your FAFSA electronically or filed a paper version and included your email address, you should receive an email within 3-5+ business days that will include a link and instructions on how to view your SAR online. Tip: Be on the lookout in your inbox for an email from noreply@FAFSA.gov.
If you filed a paper version, and didn’t provide an email, you’ll receive a copy of your SAR by postal mail, typically within two weeks.
Q: How do I view my Student Aid Report online?
A: You’ll find your SAR on your FAFSA home page after you log in. This is how to access your Student Aid Report on the FAFSA website:
- Select “Log In” on the FAFSA.gov home page
- Select “I am a student and want to access the FAFSA form”
- Press “Log In to Continue”
- Log in with your FSA ID
- Click “Accept” on the Pop-up
- Scroll down, and select “View SAR” on the “My FAFSA” page
Q: What kind of financial aid eligibility information will my Student Aid Report include?
A: Your SAR will include:
- Your Data Release Number (DRN)
- Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
- Whether you’ve been selected for verification
- A summary of federal grants and loans you are eligible for, along with any financial aid history you may have
Q: What is the DRN?
A: DRN, or Data Release Number, is a four-digit number assigned to your FAFSA form. It ensures your identification, and it will be used to track any changes to your FAFSA form.
Q: What is an EFC?
A: Your EFC, or Expected Family Contribution, is a number estimating how much aid you may need based on the information you provided in your FAFSA. Your EFC determines your eligibility for federal financial help, including Pell Grants, federal loan, and work-study programs.
Another way of thinking of it: Your EFC estimates how much you or your family can afford to contribute to the annual cost of college. Example: If your EFC is $15,000 and the annual cost to attend a school is $55,000, your family is expected to pay $15,000 towards the cost of college. Your calculated need for aid is $40,000. This is a helpful starting point for colleges as they put together an aid package for you.
Q: My Expected Family Contribution is low. Does that mean I’m guaranteed a lot of aid?
A. Not necessarily. The EFC helps colleges determine how much financial help you need for school but it is not a financial aid offer. Some schools guarantee they will meet your family’s financial need. Others do not. Each school that accepts you for admission will send you its own financial aid offer – and these offers can vary a great deal.
Q: Why is there an asterisk by my EFC?
A: If there’s an asterisk (*) by your EFC, your FAFSA application has been selected for further verification.
Q: Why was I picked for FAFSA verification? What should I do?
A: Don’t worry! You didn’t do anything wrong. The U.S. Department of Education randomly selects applicants for further verification. What it does mean is that a school will request some additional documents, such as copies of your income tax returns, W-2 statements, etc, to confirm that the information you provided in your FAFSA is accurate. You’ll be given a deadline to provide the information.
Q: I got an email saying my Student Aid Report is available, but when I tried to access it nothing came up. What should I do?
A: If you run into this issue, first make sure your FAFSA has actually been processed. This may several days (or more) after you submit your FAFSA. If the email says your SAR is available, but nothing comes up when you click the link, log into FAFSA.gov and look for it there. If that link doesn’t work, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
Q. What do I do if there is a mistake on my Student Aid Report?
A. If you discover a mistake on your SAR, log into your FAFSA and click on “make FAFSA corrections.” Corrections may take up to seven business days to process. Be sure to look over your Student Aid Report as soon as possible. If there are any problems with your FAFSA, you should fix them quickly!
Q: What do I do with my Student Aid Report when I’m done?
A: Make sure to save a copy of your SAR! You can print it out (and put it in a file with all your other financial documents) or download it to your computer and save it as a PDF file. Even better, save it both ways – print and PDF – just to be extra careful. You may need this document when talking to your colleges about your financial aid offer.