What to do After Filing the FAFSA

By Katie Seay on November 19, 2018

The priority deadline for the 2019-2020 Free Application for Federal Student Loans (FAFSA) is December 1st, 2018. Filing early makes your student more likely to receive grant money, which runs out quickly. Also, many private and out-of-state schools use the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the FAFSA for scholarship awards or out of state tuition waivers, so it is still helpful to file early even if you don’t anticipate qualifying for grant money. With this deadline rapidly approaching, it’s important to understand what the process looks like after clicking “submit.”


Step 1: Your child will receive their Student Aid Report (SAR). This is a summary of all the information submitted on the FAFSA, as well as your student’s potential eligibility for the different types of federal financial aid and your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). If your student submitted the FAFSA online, the SAR will be sent to his or her email. If he or she submitted a paper FAFSA, it will arrive in the mail. Make sure to review this report with your student to make sure all the information is complete and accurate. If you find an error, submit your changes to the FAFSA. If not, save this document for your records.


Step 2: Colleges will receive your child’s information. Every single college listed on your child’s FAFSA will receive a copy of his or her information. If you need to add another school to his or her FAFSA, simply log into FAFSA and add the school’s Federal School Code.


Step 3: Your child will receive his or her Financial Aid Award Letter. The timing of your financial aid award will vary depending on the school. Many colleges will wait until your student has been officially admitted to the school to send his or her award. Some may only send the award after a certain date, no matter when your student was accepted. Check with the individual college to see their financial aid timeline.


Step 4: Pay attention to communications from FAFSA and the institutions. It is particularly important to recognize if your child has been selected for verification. Students are randomly selected for verification but some schools verify all students’ information. Verification just means you and your student may have to submit additional information to the schools directly, otherwise he or she will not receive federal financial aid.


Step 5: Financial aid will be disbursed. Each school does it differently, but your student will only be dispensed aid at the school where he or she actually enrolls. Make sure to pay attention to the particular institution’s requirements for accepting aid!


You may file the FAFSA at https://fafsa.ed.gov. Preparing and paying for college can seem overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before. As long as you follow the instructions and ask any questions you have, you and your student will ace the application process!