What Is Your Student Aid Report Telling You?

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Flickr user Alper Çuğun

The SAR or Student Aid Report is a document you will receive after you have submitted your FAFSA application. This document is based on your answers to the questions on the FAFSA and includes information regarding the type and amount of financial aid that is available to you from the federal government and the schools you chose to add to the application.

The SAR can be confusing, but with a little explanation, it will be much easier to understand.

How to Access Your SAR

If you completed the FAFSA online, your SAR will be available online immediately after your application is processed. To view the online version, you have to provide an email address on the FAFSA application, and you also need a Federal Student Aid ID.

If you filled out the paper version of FAFSA, you will receive your SAR by mail. The time it takes for your application to be processed can vary from a few days to a few weeks. Generally, online applications get processed faster.

When you receive your SAR, look over it to make sure all the information is correct. If you find a mistake, you may be able to correct it on the FAFSA website.

If it is a mistake on your parents’ financial information, call the financial aid office of the college you will most likely be attending. You can also do this if your parents’ income will be significantly different than the information you provided on the FAFSA.

It is important to provide as accurate information as possible because it will determine how much aid you are eligible for.

Understanding Your EFC

One of the most important pieces of information the SAR provides is your EFC or expected family contribution. This number is the amount of money that you and your parents can afford to pay towards college. The EFC is determined using your answers on the FAFSA, including how much your parents make and other financial information. It also takes into account your family size and whether anyone else will be attending college that year.

The difference between the total cost of college and your EFC is your financial need. This number is calculated by each college and includes room and board, tuition, and miscellaneous fees.

For example, if your EFC is $7,000 and the total cost of attendance for a particular college is $28,000, your total financial need would be $21,000. However, you will not necessarily be offered enough aid to totally cover your financial need.

Most types of need-based aid are first come first served, so if you did not submit the FAFSA early enough, you may have missed out on federal Pell grants or subsidized federal student loans.

Once you have received and carefully checked the information on the SAR, you can start thinking about which college will work best for you. Consider what types of aid each school is offering, as well as the total cost of attendance. With the information from the SAR, along with your own preferences, you will soon be ready to start your college career.

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!


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