FAFSA is Submitted. Now What?

There is always a big push to get your FAFSA submitted. You and your parents or guardians have provided a lot of personal and financial information. You also had to list the colleges that should receive the FAFSA information. However, what happens after sending in your FAFSA? This is something many people are wondering about now that they have submitted their FAFSA. Below is a run down of what happens after you submit the FAFSA.

  1. You will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR will provide a summary of the information students and parents submitted on the FAFSA, the student’s potential eligibility for the different types of financial aid, and their Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The SAR will be sent to the student via email if the student submitted the FAFSA online or in the mail if the student submitted a paper FAFSA. Students and parents should review the information to ensure everything is complete and correct. If no changes need to be made, students can save the information for their records. However, if an error is found while reviewing the SAR, you and your parents should submit the changes to the FAFSA.
    • Note: If your circumstances have changed (i.e. your income has significantly decreased this year compared to the tax year information you submitted on the FAFSA), you cannot make that change on the FAFSA. Instead, you will need to contact the colleges you are still considering and share your information. The college will then give you the information on their requirements for being considered for “special circumstances.”
  2. Colleges will receive your information. Every college that was listed on the FAFSA will receive a copy of your information. The EFC that was on your SAR is not the amount of money you will have to pay to attend all of the colleges you are considering. Instead, the colleges will input your EFC into the formula the college uses to award financial aid. Each college uses a different formula to determine financial aid and your financial aid award letter will look different at each institution.
    • If you need to have another college receive your FAFSA, just log into FAFSA and add the school’s Federal School Code.
  3. You will receive you Financial Aid Award Letter. 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 received your acceptance letter. Check with the college to learn of their financial aid timeline. In addition, make sure you have submitted everything required by the college for financial aid. While some colleges only require the FAFSA, other colleges also require the CSS Profile and/or their own financial aid application.
  4. 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 information that was submitted, will be sent directly to each of the colleges the student applied. If you do not submit the required documents, financial aid will not be given to the student. Students who were selected for verification are not being accused of submitting incorrect information. Students are randomly selected for verification and some schools choose to verify all students’ information.
  5. 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, especially when it is your first time applying for financial aid. Follow the instructions, pay attention to requirements, and ask questions when you have them. Many financial aid officers are wonderful and welcome questions from students (incoming students and current students) and parents.

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