What Comes After Your FAFSA Form Submission

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The FAFSA form is a U.S. Department of Education form that the student (and parents of dependent students) must file in order to qualify for federal student aid. It is used by colleges to determine your financial aid eligibility. You can submit the FAFSA form anytime after January 01 for the year you plan to attend school.

View our prior postings for information:

What Happens After You Submit

The information that you submit will be compiled by the U.S. Department of Education.  They will check your information against the IRS database.  So make sure you and your parents submit information that is from your IRS tax filings.  Any discrepancies will delay your application.  If you haven’t filed your 2007 tax returns, you need to do so prior to submitting your FAFSA form.

The Department will take your information and calculate the EFC (Expected Family Contribution).  The EFC is a measure of the family’s financial strength and the amount of resources the family has available to pay for education. Colleges will use the EFC to determine how much available aid to award the student.

For example:

+ Colleges will add up the total cost to attend college for 1 academic year (tuition, books, housing, etc.) 

– Colleges will then take the EFC and subtract it from the cost of college

= The net amount is the amount of eligible aid that can be awarded to the student

The government looks at 5 areas to calculate EFC:

  1. Assets
    includes stocks, mutual funds, annuities, trusts, US savings bonds, bank cash accounts, 529 plans, prepaid tuition plans, investment real estate, and other family holdings
  2. Income
    how much money the parents (or spouse) AND the student make. Certain amount of the parent’s income is protected based on the size of the family. Anything over that amount is then assessed on a sliding scale. The student’s income is protected to a certain level. Anything over that amount is assessed at a higher rate.
  3. Household Size
    the number of dependents in the home that are being supported by the parent or student
  4. Number in College
    the number of people within the household who are attending college
  5. Age
    how close are the parents age to retirement
The Student Aid Report

The federal government will process your FAFSA form application and produce a Student Aid Report (SAR).  The SAR will report the information from the FAFSA form and give you the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC will appear near the top section of the report.  

The SAR will be sent to the student and the schools that the student reported on the FAFSA form. If you submitted the FAFSA form via the Internet, and processed all the required documents, you will receive the SAR in about one week after your FAFSA application is processed.

After you receive the SAR, you must review it and make any necessary corrections. Read it carefully to make sure everything is correct. You can make corrections online using your PIN: click here for FAFSA

If you want to have the SAR sent to a school that wasn’t originally reported on the FAFSA form, you may do one of the following:

  • photocopy your SAR and mail it to the school of choice
  • correct and add the new school to your SAR and return it to the US Department of Education
  • contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at
    1-800-433-3242 (or dial directly 1-319-337-5665) and request duplicate copies to be sent to you
  • request duplicate copies to be sent to you from the FAFSA form web site (under “Request Duplicate Student Aid Report”)
  • add more schools by submitting a correction to your FAFSA information: 
    see FAFSA web site

Next time: what happens after you receive the SAR?

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Categories: FAFSA Form Tips, Finance