How to Read Your FAFSA Results

Have you received your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) results yet? You should hear back within a week or two depending on how you’re receiving results. And although you have time to make a decision regarding your college education, it’s important to understand how to read your FAFSA results soon as possible. The sooner you make a decision regarding the financial aspect of college, the more money is likely to be available to you – schools actually run out of need-based aid if you wait too long!


So, here’s how you can understand your FAFSA results once you receive them:

How Will You Receive Your FAFSA Results?

Your results from FAFSA are known as a “Student Aid Report” or SAR. This document gives you the information you need to know regarding your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), expected eligibility when it comes to federal student loans and Federal Pell Grants, and verification selection.

When you apply for FAFSA, if you gave your email address, you will receive your SAR in about 3-5 days to the supplied address. If you didn’t, you can expect to see it in the mail in about 7-10 days, but the exact timeline of its arrival could be impacted by USPS delays.

Information and Terms You Need to Know About Your SAR

There are likely some terms and information on your SAR that you might not have hear of or understand at first. Here is a guide for some you need terms you need to know.


Also known as the Expected Family Contribution, this is the number that the Department of Education believes your family could contribute. It doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll actually pay for college. In fact, colleges use slightly different data and calculations to determine your financial situation. You can find your EFC on the first page, underneath the date on the top right.


An asterisk next to your EFC and a notification within your SAR Acknowledgment letter means that you have been selected for verification. If this appears on your report, you will have to submit more financial documentation to colleges. This could be required if there are mistakes in your submission, conflicting data or information, or data that isn’t “normal” for submissions.

Students who are flagged will have to complete a Verification Worksheet that can be requested from a college’s financial aid office. Don’t be too worried if you receive this request – it’s not unusual or uncommon.

Data Release Number

Are you applying to more schools than you originally put on your FAFSA? Then this 4-digit number, also known as the DRN, is important as you need it to submit your SAR to new schools you apply to!  It can be found in the left-hand corner of mailed reports and upper right corners on email reports. You will also need your DRN if you move.

Loan Summary

Your loan summary will be on page 4. Look on the top half of the page and will only contain any current federal student loans.

FAFSA Information

There will also be a few pages in your SAR that includes the information you supplied on your application. If you notice any incorrect or outdated information, you need to submit the changes as soon as possible.

Loan Eligibility

And, of course, you will receive information on your eligibility for federal student loans and the Pell Grant. But note: most students are not eligible for Pell Grants and standards to receive one are high.

Once you receive your SAR, you should take steps to review your finances and go over the best routes available to you and your financial and educational future. Need help planning? Take advantage of RaptorFi’s College Financing Plan.

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