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  • Writer's pictureMike Bink

Understanding Your FAFSA Results

Have you received your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) results yet? You should hear back within a week or two of filing, depending on how you’re receiving the results. And although you have time to make a decision regarding your college education, it’s important to understand how to read your FAFSA results soon as possible. The sooner you make a decision regarding the financial aspect of college, the more money is likely to be available to you – schools actually run out of need-based aid if you wait too long!

Here’s how you can understand your FAFSA results once you receive them:

How Will You Receive Your FAFSA Results?

Your results from FAFSA are known as a “Student Aid Report” or SAR. This document gives you the information you need to know regarding your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which directly impacts whether your family will have financial need, and what student loans, scholarships, etc. your student may be eligible for. When you apply for FAFSA, if you gave your email address, you will receive your SAR in about 3-5 days to the supplied address. If you didn’t, you can expect to see it in the mail in about 7-10 days.

Information and Terms You Need to Know


Also known as the Expected Family Contribution, this is the number that the Department of Education believes your family could contribute. It doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll actually pay for college. In fact, colleges use slightly different data and calculations to determine your financial situation. You can find your EFC on the first page, underneath the date on the top right.


An asterisk next to your EFC and a notification within your SAR Acknowledgment letter means that you have been selected for verification. If this appears on your report, you will have to submit more financial documentation to colleges. This could be required if there are mistakes in your submission, conflicting data or information, or data that isn’t “normal” for submissions. Students who are flagged will have to complete a Verification Worksheet that can be requested from a college’s financial aid office.

Data Release Number

Are you applying to more schools than you originally put on your FAFSA? Then this 4-digit number, also known as the DRN, is important as you need it to submit your SAR to new schools you apply to! It can be found in the left-hand corner of mailed reports and upper right corners on email reports. You will also need your DRN if you move.

FAFSA Information

There will also be a few pages in your SAR that includes the information you supplied on your application. If you notice any incorrect or outdated information, you need to submit the changes as soon as possible.

Loan Eligibility

You will receive information on your eligibility for federal student loans and the Pell Grant. Most students are not eligible for Pell Grants and standards to receive one are high.

Final Thoughts

Applying for aid and receiving your SAR is only one step on the path to getting as much financial aid as possible. To get the best results possible for your student and family, you need to have a plan to coordinate income, taxes, and college savings and to shop as intelligently as possible for schools. If you have questions about paying for college, how to coordinate these items, or how to pick schools that will give your student the most financial aid, we are here to help! Schedule a call with us today to discuss your unique planning needs.



Mike Bink, AAMS®, CCFS®

Mike works with families to simplify the college funding process and is widely recognized as an expert in college planning. He is passionate about empowering families to become informed consumers of higher education so that they don't pay a penny more for college than they absolutely have to.

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