Acronyms Used on the FAFSA

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Flickr user Stig Andersen

The government does love their acronyms, don’t they? Finances can be confusing enough, it doesn’t always help to have dozens of letters representing various aspects of the FAFSA.

Well we’re here to give you a helpful FYI to some acronyms you might see on the FAFSA.


Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The form students and their families fill out to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid.

Everyone should file the FAFSA. Everyone. And file it every year. (Many scholarships also require you to have filed the FAFSA, so put in the effort!)

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The US Department of Education. The part of the government in charge of doling out financial aid to college-going students. They run the FAFSA and other federal aid programs.


US Internal Revenue Service. They’re in charge of managing and reviewing taxes. The FAFSA requires some of your family’s tax information.


Estimated Family Contribution. The amount of money your family is expected to contribute towards your college education. It’s calculated by the ED through the FAFSA. EFC can then determine what federal aid you’re eligible for.


Student Aid Report. Document that serves as proof that you filed the FAFSA, and tells you what your calculated EFC is. Colleges can determine what sort of aid (and how much) they’ll give you after they receive your SAR and accept your application.


Data Release Number. A 4-digit number listed on the FAFSA filing confirmation page and the SAR. This number might be used if you need to correct information or have a question about a filed FAFSA form.


Federal Student Aid Identification. You can use this ID to as an electronic signature on various federal aid websites, as well as access your personal information related to the FAFSA.

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