We talk a lot about completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), but it’s important to know what to expect next. Applying for financial aid is just the beginning of the process. Watch for communication from all the colleges you applied to and respond quickly. Here’s an idea of what happens next.

Expect a Student Aid Report

After you submit your FAFSA, expect a Student Aid Report (SAR) via an email link. It acknowledges that your FAFSA was processed, and indicates your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC is what the federal government believes your family can contribute toward your education. The SAR will also indicate if you were selected for verification. 

Be Prepared for Verification

Watch your student account and email closely as the college(s) you listed on your FAFSA might request documents to verify your FAFSA information. The federal government requires that one in three FAFSA filers be selected for verification. The college(s) will not process your financial aid package until you provide the required documents.

Expect an Award Letter

The colleges you listed on your FAFSA will notify you of the types and amounts of financial aid they’re offering. You will only receive notifications from colleges that accepted you for admission. Accept or decline the financial aid packages by the deadline.

The colleges will use this “financial need” formula to calculate how much to award you in financial aid:

   Cost of Education (tuition, books, living expenses)
– Expected Family Contribution (your FAFSA result)
   Your Financial Need

The colleges will award you as much of the “financial need” amount as possible. This financial aid could be a combination of scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loans.

Select a College

In the spring of your senior year, compare your top colleges and make your final decision. Consider the academic program, social climate, distance from home, out-of-pocket costs, and the amount you’ll need to borrow in student loans. All of these factors are important as you decide which college is the best fit for you.

Apply for Student Loans

If you need student loans, your college will direct you to StudentLoans.gov to complete the necessary forms. Allow several weeks processing time.

Have questions about the financial aid process? Contact the EducationQuest office nearest you.