Completing the FAFSA can be a daunting task, but you toughed it out and got yours submitted! Now you’re left wondering, “what happens next?”   That’s a question that most first-time FAFSA filers ask after they’ve finished the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.   As long as you hit the “Submit My FAFSA Now” button, then you can expect the following;girl on a laptop

  1. Expect a Notification: You will receive an e-mail from the U.S. Department of Education within 3-5 days after the FAFSA was submitted. The e-mail will be sent to the e-mail addresses you listed on your FAFSA.  Please review the information in this e-mail carefully as it will indicate if the student has been selected for verification.
  1. Verification: This is a mini-audit of the information you provided on your FAFSA. If selected, the college will notify you via mail, e-mail or your college-based student account, letting you know what information they are requesting. You will need to turn those documents into the college’s Financial Aid Department as soon as possible.  Keep in mind: the college cannot process your financial aid if you ignore their requests, and missing the verification deadlines could impact the amount of financial aid you receive!

 Items often requested during verification might be (but are not limited to);

  • IRS Tax Transcript
  • W2’s
  • Household verification form 
  1. Review your SAR (Student Aid report): Also in the e-mail, you will see a link to the website. Click on the link, enter the student’s FSA ID, and review the information that you submitted on the FAFSA.  If changes need to be made, go back to the main page and click the “Make FAFSA Corrections” link.  Don’t forget to hit the submit button on the last page so the college receives your updates.
  1. Financial Aid Award Notification: The college(s) you listed on the FAFSA will use your FAFSA results to determine your eligibility for federal, state and institutional aid. The award notification is a detailed list of the types and amounts of aid the college is offering to you.  This notification will be sent via mail, e-mail, or your college-based student account. Therefore, it’s important to check those communication sources regularly!
  1. Compare awards and accept/decline aid offered: Once you receive your award notification, review it thoroughly and accept or decline each type of aid being offered, by the college’s deadline.  If you listed more than one college on the FAFSA, you will receive awards from each college and you should compare them to determine which is the best financial aid package for your situation. You will only receive notifications from colleges that accepted you for admission.
  1. Borrowing for college: The college determines the type and amount of loans that you can borrow.  If you need to borrow federal loans for college, you’ll need to do a bit of additional paperwork after you have received your financial aid notification.  Go to and log in with your FSAID to complete a Master Promissory Note and Entrance Loan Counseling.

The college might not offer enough financial aid to cover the costs of attendance. If there is a remaining balance, parents may consider borrowing a PLUS loan. If that is of interest, they will go to the same website , log in with their FSA ID, and complete a Master Promissory Note as well as the Apply for Direct PLUS loan form. 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.