It’s that time again - the next stage of the financial aid process - when families start to receive their Student Aid Reports (SAR). Banks do not issue loans without ensuring credit worthiness, employers do not hire employees without proper qualifications, and colleges do not give out scholarships and grants without proper financial documentation. The SAR is a very integral part of that financial aid documentation. As such, it’s really important to understand how it works.
Your SAR summarizes the information you provided on your FAFSA and indicates your official Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The financial aid office(s) will then use the information from your SAR to prepare a custom financial aid package for you based on the types and amount of aid for which you are eligible.
Here are some guidelines you need to follow so that your SAR is processed successfully for the 2017-2018 school year:
How and when will I get my SAR?
Whether you receive your SAR online or on paper depends on whether you provide an email address on your FAFSA. If you provide a valid email address, you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to access an online copy of your SAR.
If you don't provide a valid email address on your FAFSA, you will receive either a SAR or SAR Acknowledgement via postal mail.
The SAR lists your FAFSA information and provides space for you to make corrections. You will receive a paper SAR if you file a paper FAFSA and don’t provide an email address.
The SAR Acknowledgement lists your FAFSA information, but you’ll need to make any corrections at the FAFSA website at fafsa.gov. You’ll receive a SAR Acknowledgement if you file an electronic FAFSA and don’t provide an email address.
If you have an FSA ID (username and password) and your FAFSA has been processed, you can log in at the FAFSA site to view SAR information regardless of whether you filed the online or paper FAFSA or provided an email address or not.
The school(s) you list on your FAFSA will have access to your SAR data electronically within a day after it is processed. Here’s a summary of what you’ll receive, and how soon after filing your FAFSA, based on what type of FAFSA you file:
What information does a SAR contain?
If your application is complete, an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will display in the upper right-hand corner of your SAR. If your application is incomplete, your SAR will not include an EFC, but it will tell you what you need to do to resolve any issues.
The SAR also contains a four-digit Data Release Number (DRN), which appears on the first page in the upper right corner of the paper SAR and SAR Acknowledgement. On the electronic SAR the DRN is located in the box that contains the Application Receipt date, below the EFC. You will need the DRN if you choose to allow your college or career school to change certain information on your FAFSA.
What am I supposed to do with my SAR?
When you get your SAR, review it carefully to make sure it’s correct and complete. The school(s) you listed on your FAFSA will use your information to determine your eligibility for federal—and possibly nonfederal—financial aid. A school may ask you to verify the accuracy of the data you provide on the FAFSA, so you need to be sure the information is correct.
If you don’t have any changes to make to the information listed on your SAR, just keep it for your records.
If you review your SAR and find a mistake, you will need to correct or update your FAFSA. You can get appropriate instructions for correcting or updating your FAFSA here.
So that’s it. Follow these simple guidelines and you can pretty much ensure this very important part of the financial aid process will go smoothly. Then once your SAR is accurate and complete and you are eligible for federal student financial aid, each school in which you were admitted will send you an award letter.