What is a DRN and Why is it Important for Financial Aid?

What is DRM FAFSA and what does the DRM have to do with FAFSA

Flickr user RHiNO NEAL

DRN stands for Data Release Number, but what does that mean in context with the FAFSA? We explain more below.

Financial aid is already complicated and potentially frustrating. And that’s not including all the acronyms involved. When it comes to financial aid, there is a whole dictionary of acronyms you’ll come across. DRN, FAFSA, EFC, SAR, FSA ID. It can get tricky to keep track of them all, or even know what each jumble of letters means.


So, what is DRN in relation to the FAFSA? DRN or Data Release Number refers your unique 4-digit code on the FAFSA confirmation page and your Student Aid Report (SAR). The 4-digit code ensures your identification. You can use the DRN when you want to change something in your FAFSA form, including your permanent address, the schools you’re sending the FAFSA to, and your phone number. Keep your DRN number handy. You never know when you may need it, and it’s best not to forget what it is. Write it down somewhere, or keep your SAR archived so you can refer back to it in the future.

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FAFSA Updates & Corrections

If you need to update your FAFSA with new information—maybe one of your parents lost their jobs, so your EFC suddenly changed—or correct wrong information on the form you’re sent, you’ll need your DRN to confirm everything. The people helping you, whether that’s people with the FAFSA or your college’s financial aid office, are the only people you should tell your 4-digit code to.

Financial Aid at Colleges

If you plan to send your FAFSA information to more than the allotted 10 schools, you can call up a colleges’ financial aid office and give them the following info: your name, social security number, and DRN so they can look up your SAR and determine what sort of aid they can give you. It may only be 4 numbers, but your DRN is an important bit of information to keep around. You never know when you need it.

Other Things About the FAFSA

Like we said earlier, filing the FAFSA can be complicated and frustrating. In fact, some students don’t even file the FAFSA! We strongly recommend everyone file the FAFSA, and we mean absolutely everyone. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’ll qualify for any money. Do it anyway. Filing the FAFSA not only opens you up to scholarships from and outside of the school, it also opens the door to institutional grants and federal student loans. Which, by the way, are a better option compared to private student loans.

Take your time when you’re filing the FAFSA. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or admit that you don’t know something. There are plenty of resources that help you fill out the FAFSA, whether that’s an online course, a real-life FAFSA session (check out if your high school or college offers any), or even our question-by-question FAFSA guide! Don’t let acronyms like DRN or FSA-ID, or financial aid terminology intimidate you. There’s literally no downside to filing the FAFSA, and you really should every year you’re attending college.