The FAFSA – What happens next?
You’ve taken the time to submit the FAFSA, and it was a battle. Now you’re finally finished – what’s next?
First, the information in your FAFSA is submitted to the Department of Education’s Central Processing System. That’s where it all begins.
If you submitted the FAFSA online, using a PIN for your signature, you can check the status of your application at fafsa.ed.gov within 3-5 days. If you submitted a paper signature by mail, it’ll take 7-10 days to be able to see the status of your FAFSA online.
If you submitted the FAFSA online, you should receive an email notification once your application has been processed, with a link to an online document called the Student Aid Report (SAR). Using the PIN you set up to electronically sign the FAFSA, you can view the SAR online at fafsa.ed.gov.
You’ll also get this same email notification if you submitted the FAFSA by mail and provided an email address, but it could take about 14 days longer.
Your SAR is made available to the schools you listed right when you receive it. The Financial Aid offices at each school can then start evaluating your Expected Family Contribution, requesting more information from you if needed, and determining your financial aid award.
If you find that you made a mistake when filing, don’t worry! You can make corrections after the application has been processed. You MUST do this online, with a PIN. You may want to notify the schools who received your SAR so they know to expect an updated version.
You may start hearing from schools before you have decided to enroll, or even before you have been accepted. You may receive offers of financial assistance, or award letters, with a wide range of gift or self-help aid options. Be sure to carefully read the information you receive from each school so you understand the amount and types of aid that’s available to you.
- Demystifying the FAFSA
- Exit Counseling
- Filling It Out
- How the FAFSA Challenged Us to Find Alternative Funding
- Independent or Dependent Student Status?
- Reality Check
- Revising: A Primer for Parents
- The Calculations Behind the Application
- To-Do Lists, Anxiety, and Preparing for College
- Why Submit the FAFSA