As most people know, the FAFSA is now accepting your information for the 2018-2019 academic year. If you’re like many students, you and your parents have already pulled together all of your income and tax information and submitted your FAFSA. Now that you have submitted your FAFSA, what happens next? Below is a run down of what happens after you submit the FAFSA.
You will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR).
The SAR will provide a summary of the information you and your parents submitted on the FAFSA. It will also provide your potential eligibility for different types of federal aid and give you your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). After you receive the SAR, you and your parents should review it to ensure it is complete and correct. If no changes need to be made, you can save the information for your records. If you have found an error, log in and made the change.
While you can make changes to the FAFSA if you made a mistake, you cannot update your information. For example, if your income has changed, you cannot provide this information on the FAFSA. Instead, you will need to contact the colleges you are considering and share your information. The colleges will then give you the information on their requirements for being considered for “special circumstances.”
College will receive your information.
Every college that was listed on the FAFSA will receive your FAFSA information. Colleges will take the information and determine your eligibility for aid. The colleges will also take your EFC and input it into the formula they use to determine the amount of institutional aid you will receive. Remember, the EFC is not the amount you will pay to attend a college. Colleges award financial aid differently. There may be a handful of colleges that meet full financial aid. However, the vast majority of colleges do not meet full financial need (Cost of Attendance – EFC).
If you need to add another college to your list of colleges that should receive your FAFSA, log into FAFSA and add the school’s Federal School Code.
You will receive Financial Aid Award Letters.
Just like how colleges award financial aid differently, the timing of the financial aid award will vary as well. Many colleges will not send a financial aid award until you have been officially admitted to the college. Other colleges may only send the financial aid award after a certain date, no matter when you receive your acceptance letter.
Your financial aid letter will outline all of the financial aid you will be awarded if you attend the college. It should include federal aid (grants and loans), state aid, and institutional aid. The award letter will also detail the terms of the aid that you are offered. For example, you will find the requirements you must meet to renew the scholarships the college has awarded you. Read all of the terms closely so you know exactly how much you will be paying out of pocket. Before committing to a college, make sure you receive your financial aid award letter from all of the colleges you applied. Compare your financial aid award letters to ensure you are choosing the college that is a good financial fit for you and your family. As long as you did not apply Early Decision, you have until May 1 to choose the college you will attend.
Pay attention to communications from FAFSA and the institutions.
Some students will be selected for verification. If selected for verification, students and parents may have to submit additional information. Typically this information, such as tax forms to prove the figures you submitted on the FAFSA, will be sent directly to to each of the colleges you applied. If you do not submit the required documents, financial aid will not be given to you. Students who are selected for verification are randomly selected for verification – you are not being accused of lying about the information you shared on the FAFSA.
Financial aid will be dispersed.
Each college has a different process of dispersing aid. However, aid will only be dispersed on your behalf at the college you choose to enroll. Pay attention to the institution’s requirements for accepting the aid, as well as other requirements, such as entrance counseling for loans.
The FAFSA, paying for college, and financial aid can seem intimidating. As long as you follow the instructions, pay attention to requirements, and ask questions, you will be okay. Many financial aid officers are wonderful and welcome questions from students (incoming and current students) and parents.