Congratulations! You finished filling out the 2014-2015 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)! Now what?
1. Look Out For Your Student Aid Report
After you submit your FAFSA, you’ll get a Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR is a paper or electronic document that gives you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid as well as listing your answers to the questions on your FAFSA.
Any student with a Federal Student Aid PIN can view and print his or her SAR by logging in to www.fafsa.gov and clicking on the appropriate school year. This is also where you can check the status of your application if you have not received your SAR yet. Once you get your SAR, you should review it carefully to make sure it’s correct and complete. If you made a mistake, make sure you go in and correct or update your FAFSA.
2. Locate Your EFC
Found your SAR? Awesome! You may want to start by looking for your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC can be found in the box at the top of the first page of your SAR, under your social security number.
Your EFC is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. Its formula considers your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) as well as your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year.
Schools use your EFC to determine your federal student aid eligibility and your financial aid award. However, it’s important to remember that your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your school to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. Contact your school’s financial aid office if you have any questions about how they calculate financial aid.
3. Make Corrections If You Need To
It’s important to make sure that everything on your FAFSA is correct and complete, as your school may ask you to verify some of the information.
Did you fill out FAFSA before your 2013 tax information was complete? Do you need to update any information? Did you find a mistake? Don’t worry! It’s easy to make corrections online at www.fafsa.gov. Log in and click “Make FAFSA Corrections.” You’ll need to enter your Federal Student Aid PIN to make any corrections. Corrections should be processed in 3-5 days and you should receive a revised SAR.
4. Review Your Financial Aid History Information
The last page of your SAR includes information about your financial aid history, specifically the loans you have taken out. It can be complicated and confusing to keep track of all of your loans and interest rates, but it is very important. Reviewing the financial aid history in your SAR will help you be aware of how much you are borrowing and how much you’ll owe later.
Remember: You can access your financial aid history information anytime by logging into www.nslds.ed.gov with your Federal Student Aid PIN.
5. Double-Check With Your Schools
Lastly, make sure that you double-check with the financial aid offices at the schools you applied to. Sometimes schools need additional paperwork or have other deadlines. You never want to leave money on the table!
Rachel Connolly is freshman at The University of Michigan and virtual intern in ED’s office of Federal Student Aid.