The SAR, or Student Aid Report, will be sent back to you after filling out the FAFSA. If you put an email address on the application, most communication will be done via email.
If all your information is correct, you should get a one-page acknowledgement form containing your EFC and your DRN number. The DRN number is very important. If you need to make changes to your application over the phone, you must have this number.
If there are any outstanding issues or incorrect information, you will receive an eight-page Student Aid Report with blanks that you must correct before sending it back. Make sure you sign the SAR. If you make corrections to the SAR and do not sign it, it will be rejected.
More information about your Student Aid Report can be found at the Mapping your Future website.
You will need to go to the Department of Education site if you want an online copy of your Student Aid Report.
How to Review the Student Aid Report (SAR)
When you get your SAR back, you might be confused by the different numbers and their meanings. If you filled out the FAFSA online, you should get your SAR back within a week or less. Paper applications take longer to process, so you might have to wait up to a month to get your Student Aid Report.
The Importance of the EFC
The most important number you should look at is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). That number is located at the top right-hand corner of the SAR. Basically, the government has decided that you (or your family) can pay this amount toward your college costs. It is not necessarily the amount of money you will pay, but the government uses this number to calculate how much aid they can give you.
Make sure there is no asterisk next to the EFC, which means your application might require further reviewed. You may have to mail more financial documents to prove your financial need. About 30 percent of all FAFSA applications are flagged for further review. I yours is one of those, you must provide the necessary documents as soon as you can to receive your aid money.
The EFC will let you know if you are eligible to receive the Pell Grant or the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG). As long as your EFC is under $5,550, you can usually get a Pell Grant of at least $555. You do not have to pay this back. It is gift money!
Read the last pages on the SAR to make sure the data is entirely correct. You are allowed to make changes, if necessary, but you must do it quickly.
The DRN is the Data Release Number, and you will need to have this if you want to send your Student Aid Report to other colleges not listed on your FAFSA. You also will need the DRN if you happen to change your home address.