What Happens After You File the FAFSA?

I filled out my FAFSA, now what?

Congratulations! You’ve completed your Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which means you’re one giant step closer to getting some funds for college.

Before those funds can reach your school of choice, however, there are a few more steps to take. This article will help you navigate those steps, so you can receive the right amount of money in the right place at the right time.

Overview of Your Next Steps:

Check

  • Check the status of your FAFSA.
  • Complete additional financial forms, if needed.

Review

  • Review your Student Aid Report (SAR).

Complete

  • Correct/update information, as needed.
  • Follow the verification process if you’re notified it’s required.

Repeat

  • Renew your FAFSA for every year of college.

How To Check Your Financial Aid Status

None of your “next steps” can happen until the first hurdle is cleared, which is successfully submitting your completed application. We recommend double-checking the status of your FAFSA to make sure it went through without issue.

Keep in mind that if you mailed your application, it can take approximately 7 to 10 days for it to process. If you completed your application online, it should process in a few days.

How to view your FAFSA after submitting:

  • Option 1: Log in to fafsa.gov.
  • Option 2: Contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center directly.

If your FAFSA form is still being processed, we recommend waiting a few days before you check the status again.

Completing Additional Forms

Your state or one of the colleges where you’re applying might require additional scholarship, grant, or financial aid forms.

You might also be asked to complete another standardized form called the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. Deadlines for this form are set by the individual schools that participate.

To make sure you’re submitting all of the information required, contact each school’s financial aid office directly with any questions.

My FAFSA is processed, now what?

Information Review and Timing

Once your FAFSA form is successfully processed, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). Please note that your SAR differs from a Financial Aid Award Letter, which is mailed to you directly from individual colleges.

Financial Aid Award Letters contain school-specific information about how your federal aid eligibility compares with the cost of attendance (COA) and other forms of aid that might be available at that particular school.

Helpful Resources About Financial Aid Award Letters:
8 Things You Should Know About Financial Aid Award Letters
Understanding and Comparing Financial Aid Letters

When will I get my SAR and financial aid award letters?

When it comes to Financial Aid Award Letters, the timing varies by school. When it comes to your SAR, you can expect it to arrive by email within about a week, after your FAFSA form has been processed. If you did not provide an email address, your SAR will arrive by mail 7 to 10 days after processing.

Reviewing Your Student Aid Report (SAR)

Your SAR will contain information that you provided on your FAFSA form. If there are no corrections or additional details to provide, your SAR will contain your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), a number that helps determine your eligibility for federal student aid. The report also includes the list of schools where you’re applying.

All of this information should be reviewed carefully, as follows:

Reviewing Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

This number is just as it sounds – the amount your family is expected to contribute toward your college education. It is not the exact amount of money your family will be paying, but a figure that represents your family’s financial strength, which is calculated by a formula, then used to determine your financial aid eligibility.

Details you submitted on your FAFSA form that determine your EFC include taxed and untaxed income, additional assets, benefits, and the number of people in your family.

Your financial need for each separate school is determined by subtracting your EFC from the Cost of Attendance (COA), so it’s important to make sure your EFC is correct. While COA varies by school, EFC is a fixed figure (unless your family’s financial circumstances change within the year).

Reviewing Your Schools

Make sure the schools listed on your SAR are the ones where you’re applying. If you’ve decided not to apply to a certain school or you want to add some schools, you’ll be able to fix that.

Remember that some schools have similar names or multiple campuses, and this can affect the cost of attendance or confuse your approval process if your form goes to the wrong place.

Carefully selecting the proper Federal School Code prevents this error.

Can I make FAFSA corrections?

Absolutely. Mistakes happen, school choices change, and financial circumstances can shift.

You can make corrections to your FAFSA after the deadline as follows:

  • Change your contact information
  • Adjust your financial circumstances
  • Add/remove a school

For details on how to do so, please visit:
https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/next-steps/correct-update

Keeping the government accurately informed will go a long way toward making sure you receive your FAFSA money when and where you need it.

What is FAFSA verification?

Verification is a process schools use to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate. Being selected for verification does not necessarily mean you’ve done something wrong. Some schools select students randomly while others require verification for all applicants.

If you’ve been selected to provide verification, you’ll be informed via your SAR or from a school directly. If you’re unclear about anything in the request – specific materials or deadlines – contact the school for clarification.

Apply For Aid Each Year

You’ll need to repeat the FAFSA process for every year of college that requires financial aid. The good news is that once you’re past your first FAFSA, you can complete a Renewal FAFSA, which already has some of your information filled in.

That said, since your financial circumstances can differ from year to year and affect your financial aid eligibility, it’s vital to review and double-check for accuracy at each step, each year.

By the time you graduate, you’ll be a pro!

Additional resources:
What’s FAFSA and why is it important?
How to Apply for the FAFSA

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