04.02.10 | Your Student Aid Report and You
Within two to six weeks after you have completed your FAFSA, the Department of Education sends you a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR).
The SAR will give you an idea of how much the federal government and colleges expect you to pay. Look for the EFC (expected family contribution) number. If it says 09000, for example, that means your probable share of annual tuition and fees will be $9,000. Here is what to do when the SAR arrives:
Make updates/corrections. If you need to fix any errors or amend the information you supplied on the FAFSA; now is the time to do it. This is particularly useful if you have recently completed your tax returns since you filled out the FAFSA, and some of your information has changed.
When you got to submit the corrections, you should also contact the schools to which you have applied. The colleges you selected will receive this report as well. As registration deadlines grow nearer, some colleges and universities might prefer you send a copy of the SAR directly to their financial aid office, with all corrections included.
Inform the schools of any new hardships. Remember that your FAFSA was based on last year’s income, so if you have experienced any particular hardships such as a job loss or costly medical injury, call the schools and state your case.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you’re an exceptional student and think you can get a better aid package, don’t be afraid to do a little haggling over your aid from a certain school. Colleges may increase their aid offering to a student with an especially strong academic background. Explain your case to the school’s admissions office, and be prepared to show copies of better offers from other schools.
Seek out additional funds, if necessary. If your EFC is higher than expected, and you’re not sure you can pay, consider alternative methods, such as private student loans. Be sure to do some digging for scholarships as well.
If you sent in your FAFSA but haven’t received your SAR within two to six weeks, contact the U.S. Department of Education help desk at: 1-800-4-FED-AID. If you have any additional questions about your SAR, leave them in the comments or peruse our forums and our financial aid experts will assist you.