After you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR summarizes the information you provided on your FAFSA and contains a number that is key to determining your eligibility for financial aid. Here’s how to make sense of it:
Make sure your SAR is correct.
Double check that all the information you submitted via the FAFSA is correct in the SAR. Need to correct or update your FAFSA? Learn how to do it here.
Find your Expected Family Contribution
The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is not the amount you or your family must pay for your college education. Instead, it is a number used to determine your eligibility for financial aid. Lots of factors determine how much you will actually have to pay for postsecondary education, including how much in grants, scholarships, and work-study you qualify for and the costs of your college.
What if my EFC is not there? If your EFC is missing, it means that your FAFSA is incomplete. Review the SAR carefully to understand what information is missing or what the system flagged as inaccurate. Make corrections as soon as possible. You can find out how here.
Understand What Happens Next
The schools you listed on your FAFSA will receive your EFC and will offer you separate financial aid if they grant you admission. If you are eligible for federal aid such as Pell Grants or federal student loans, most schools will offer that type of aid as options. Additionally, some schools may offer you work-study. You will need to consider and compare offers and the total expenses required to study at each college to make the best decision. Generally, you want to accept aid in this order:
- Accept free money (scholarships and grants)
- Accept earned money (work-study)
- Accept borrowed money (federal student loans)
For more advice, visit this Federal Student Aid article.
Didn’t receive a SAR? Here are some steps to take.
1. Make sure enough time has passed. If you submitted your FAFSA online with a FSA ID signature, it takes 3-5 days. If you submitted via mail or mailed in the signature page, it will take 1-2 weeks.
2. Check your spam folder. Search for emails from FederalStudentAidFAFSA@cpsemail.ed.gov.
3. Make sure you actually submitted your FAFSA. Learn how here.
Still not sure what to do?
Use the Federal Student Aid Information Center for help – you can call, email, or chat with them. You can also ask your school counselor, career coach, or your college’s financial aid office for help.