What happens after I submit my FAFSA?

Last Updated on October 9, 2023 by Lori Pace

Whilst we’re sure that you’re well aware of the details of the free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) some of this additional content may help your submission even more.

What happens after I submit my FAFSA?

Key points to the FAFSA:

1. As mentioned, the form aims to determine your financial aid from the government and most colleges

2. The form collects your personal and financial information from students and parents, then applies a formula to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

3. The most important factors for assessment are income, assets and the number of children enrolled in college

4. The FAFSA becomes available every October for the following academic year

5. You will receive your financial aid package after being accepted to colleges

Where do I get a FAFSA form?

The forms are all listed online at fafsa.ed.gov. Ideally, you should complete the form online simply because it’s easier all around – it is free to complete and submit (refer to the example of the form above if that helps?)

Where Do I Get A Fafsa Form

Who should use the FAFSA?

Basically, when it comes to federal financial aid and school-based financial aid availability don’t assume you won’t qualify.

The FAFSA considers many factors in determining student financial need – more than income and assets. In essence, as long as you meet the basic eligibility requirements (i.e. a high school diploma or equivalent, good academic progress, and such) you should use the FAFSA to apply for financial aid.

I’ve submitted my FAFSA, what’s next?

Having submitted your application (as referenced above) you will receive an email with a link to an online copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR)

The SAR is a paper or electronic document, a good example of which can be found here, that specifies your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which ultimately determines your need and eligibility for aid.

What is Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

As we mentioned above your EFC is a measure of how much money you and your family are expected to contribute to your college education. This is calculated from the information you completed on your FAFSA, and this information is shared with the schools you listed on your FAFSA.

Using this information, the schools can work out your financial need and package your financial aid using grants, loans, and work-study.

What happens if I don’t get my SAR?

Assuming everything was completed, on your FAFSA, correctly you should receive your SAR within three weeks. Should you not please call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or login to fafsa.gov where you’ll be able to look up the status of your application.

Are we getting ahead of ourselves here?

Please don’t worry if things are not going according to your plan. Here’s a quick regroup before we go on.

Do you need:

1. Help to complete the form

2. Help with anything else related to FAFSA

3. Perhaps you need to renew for FAFSA form because there was something missing

Everything you may need assistance with you can find here: Federal Student Aid.

In addition, make sure that you had and submitted all of the following information:

1. Student social security number

2. Parent(s) social security number

3. Students driver’s license (if applicable)

4. If you’re not a US citizen, then your Student alien registration form

5. Federal tax information for you or your parent’s whichever is applicable

6. Records of untaxed income

7. Other financial documents pertaining to savings or investments

Now that we’ve double-checked then perhaps, we’re looking to …

How long does it take to get my financial aid award letter?

According to our research, most schools will send you their financial aid letter, along with any offer of admission, between 1 – 3 months after receiving your FAFSA application – usually late March to early April – but this does depend on schools and will definitely have been affected due to COVID-19.

Obviously, each school will phrase their letters differently, but you should see what type of aid you’re being offered and how much of it you will receive, should you accept the admission.

Again, this financial aid could comprise grants, scholarships, work-study programs, college-sponsored aid, and federal loans.

How is Financial Aid calculated?

This may be something that you’re wondering, having completed so much content you may want to know. There are four factors that determine how the financial aid is calculated:

1. Your year of school

2. Your enrollment status (full or part-time)

3. Cost of attendance (COA)

4. Expected family contribution (EFC – explained in more detail above)

The COA is how much it will cost for you to go to a specific college for one year including tuition, room, board, books, supplies, and other expenses – this will of course vary from school to school.

The EFC is calculated from the information supplied on your FAFSA and basically represents the amount of money the government thinks your family could pay for one academic year.

Your EFC subtracted from a school’s COA will equate to your financial need.

Makes sense, right.

To recap

1. You completed the FAFSA form

2. Submitted it

3. You received confirmation in the form of your SAR and your Financial Aid letter

4. If anything stopped either of these processes you’ve visited the Federal Student Aid website and checked if anything was missing

5. Next and final step is to pick your college and accept their offer

What an exciting phase of your life you are entering, good luck. Be you!

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!