With college decisions due to come out pretty soon, financial aid is something that’s worth considering. Depending on your family’s financial situation, the choice to go to a school in state versus out of state, or to a public versus private college, can be influenced by financial factors.
Knowing more about the financial aid you can expect to receive — and what your family is expected to contribute — can help you start making some realistic choices about where to go to school.
That’s where your student aid report, or SAR, comes into play.
What Financial Information Is on a SAR?
First and foremost, your SAR lists your expected family contribution (EFC) based on the information you provided on your FAFSA. In short, as its name suggests, the EFC is the amount that your family may be expected to contribute toward your college costs. It tends to be higher for high-income families, and may be low (or nothing) for lower-income families.
The SAR will also let you know whether you’re eligible for a Pell Grant.
These two pieces of information will help you start to assess the financial feasibility of various schools. If your EFC is fairly low, you can expect to receive correspondingly higher financial aid offers (and vice versa). This is a great time to talk to your parents about how much they anticipate contributing to your college education, if you haven’t already had that conversation.
What Other Information Is on a SAR?
In addition to the information about your EFC and Pell Grant eligibility, your SAR will summarize the information you provided when you filled out the FAFSA.
If there’s any missing information, your SAR will let you know about it, and tell you what further information you need to provide.
On your SAR, you’ll also find a four-digit Data Release Number. Your DRN lets you give your SAR to schools you didn’t originally list on your FAFSA, and also allows you (or other authorized entities) to make changes to the SAR.
When Will My SAR Arrive?
Depending on how you submitted your FAFSA, and whether you supplied your email address, you can get your SAR anywhere from three days to three weeks later. Whether you get it by mail or online depends on whether you supplied your email address.
What Should I Do When My SAR Arrives?
First, look over the information summary carefully to make sure all of the information there is correct. If your EFC is dramatically different than you expected, the answer might be here; a mistake could have led to an inaccurate EFC.
If anything on your SAR is incorrect due to mistakes on your FAFSA, you’ll need to correct your FAFSA, which you can do online. Alternatively, you can use the form provided on the paper version of the SAR to correct the information.
If there aren’t any mistakes on your SAR, and it doesn’t ask you to supply any further information, you don’t need to do anything except keep a copy of it in your records.