The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) student aid report (otherwise known as the SAR) essentially summarizes all the information you provided on your FAFSA.
The SAR also includes a little number called your expected family contribution (EFC), which your school uses to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. Most students will receive, review and save their SAR for a later date; however, some students’ SARs will notify them of errors or missing information.
Let’s break down what a SAR report means to you.
Do I Have To Do Anything With My SAR?
In most cases, the answer is no. However, if you submitted a FAFSA that was missing, let’s say, a key signature, then you’ll receive a paper SAR in the mail with instructions to provide the missing signature and mail the signed SAR back for processing.
Also (shameless ploy to get you to apply for scholarships!), if you have a pretty low EFC (say anything near zero), then you most likely have significant financial need. While there are scholarships for everyone, there are huge amounts of scholarships available to students with financial need.
In some cases, a scholarship will ask you to submit a copy of your SAR to prove your financial need. So, the lower your EFC, the more you should be looking into scholarship dollars!
When Will I Receive My SAR?
This depends on how you submitted your FAFSA. If you submitted your FAFSA online and provided an email address, you should receive your SAR via email within 3 to 5 days. If no email address was provided, then you’ll receive a paper copy of your SAR via snail mail in about 7 to 10 days.
All other methods of completing the FAFSA (paper applications, etc.) will result in you receiving your SAR via mail in about 2-3 weeks.
There Is No EFC On My SAR. Did I Do Something Wrong?
Not necessarily. Your SAR could be missing an EFC for a variety of reasons, including:
- You did not provide your parents’ financial information with your FAFSA, even though you are a dependent.
- You did not provide your parents’ financial information because you qualified for “special circumstances” as a dependent.
- You made an error in your FAFSA that needs to be corrected (your SAR will explain what you are missing).
Having an EFC of zero isn’t the same thing as having no EFC number. An EFC of zero just means that you have significant financial need and your family cannot be expected to contribute much, if anything, to your financial education. (This is a good thing—it means you’ll likely qualify for the maximum amount of financial aid.)
If you receive the SAR without an EFC and are not sure why, simply call your financial aid office and ask for help. You cannot appeal your EFC; however, you can ask your school for additional financial assistance if you have special circumstances and feel your EFC does not reflect your family’s actual financial situation. Check out my post on the EFC for more information.
Want more information on applying for the FAFSA? Then, check out our video titled When And How To Apply For Financial Aid (FAFSA)!
(Photo: College Financial Aid Advice)