Congratulations are in order! You’ve just filed your FAFSA application, for some, the most tedious and stressful process of them all. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and finally, you’ve made it. Now, what happens next?
Expect your SAR.
After you submit your FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is an electronic document that will list the information you provided on your FAFSA. Review it carefully to make sure your information is correct. It also indicates if you are eligible for a Pell Grant and/or student loan. The college(s) will later provide more specific information.
Complete the verification process.
Verification is like a mini-audit of the information you listed on your FAFSA. The federal government requires colleges to verify the information reported by students and their parents on a random basis. It is important to stay in contact with your college(s) and to submit all the necessary documentation. Your college(s) cannot award financial aid to you until the verification process is complete.
Show me the money!
The college financial aid office will use your FAFSA results to determine your eligibility for federal, state, and institutional aid. These funds are available to help cover tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and other related expenses. The award letter provides you with information about your cost of attendance and the financial aid available to help you pay for those expenses. Check your mail, email and student portal for your financial aid award letter.
What does your award letter tell you?
Following is a list of the types of financial aid that could potentially be on your award letter and a description of what they mean:
Scholarships and grants are types of free money. Scholarships are awarded for a variety of reasons and some are renewable. Tall your college about any outside scholarships (not offered directly by the college). Grants are awarded based on the family’s financial need as determined from the FAFSA.
Work-Study allows you to work on campus and earn money while you’re a student. You’ll be paid like a normal job, so money will not be available up front to cover tuition, books, or room and board.
Student loans allow you to borrow to pay for college expenses, and must be repaid after you graduate or drop below half-time status. Use this Loan Chart to understand how much you can borrow each year, the interest rate, and when repayment begins.
Once you receive your award letter(s), compare them to determine how much it will cost you to attend each school. If you need to borrow student loans, calculate how much you’ll rack up in loans over four years before you make a final college decision. Accept the award letter from the college you plan to attend.
Don’t have enough financial aid?
The college might not offer enough financial aid to cover the costs of attendance. If there is a remaining balance, parents can consider a PLUS loan. Other options include setting up a payment plan with the college, taking out an alternative loan, or perhaps selecting a more affordable college.
If you have questions about the financial aid process, call your college’s financial aid office, or the EducationQuest location nearest you.