Key takeaways

  • The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a document that communicates your eligibility for federal student aid.
  • The SAR because it estimates your projected financial aid award and out-of-pocket contributions for higher education expenses.
  • You must complete the FAFSA for an SAR to be generated on your behalf.
  • You can access your SAR online at the Federal Student Aid Website or request to receive a copy by mail.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed to access federal aid to help cover higher education expenses. After you complete the FAFSA, you’ll need to get for your Student Aid Report, confirm its accuracy and adjust your FAFSA if needed. If not, you could miss out on financial aid to help offset higher education costs.

What is the Student Aid Report?

The Student Aid Report (SAR) outlines how much money you could receive in federal student aid. It has a summary of all the answers you submitted on your FAFSA and is usually sent to you via email a few days after you complete the form. You can also find it by logging into your FAFSA account or contacting the Federal Student Aid Information Center and requesting a copy by postal mail.

The SAR is important because it gives you an at-a-glance view of how much financial aid you might receive in Pell Grants and federal student loans. While it’s not the final figure — it won’t include any potential financial aid from your college or your state — having a general dollar amount gives you an idea of how much your family is expected to contribute financially to your education.

The SAR is sent to any schools you’re applying to. Schools will use this document to determine your final financial aid package, including scholarships and grants.

You can also use your SAR to correct select errors you made when completing your FAFSA. Correcting errors can change how much financial aid you receive at the federal level and from your school.

What information is on the Student Aid Report?

The SAR has several components that outline your financial aid for school:

  • Expected family contribution (EFC). If you’ve completed the FAFSA, your expected family contribution, or EFC, will appear in the upper right-hand corner of the SAR. This number is an index that helps estimate a family’s ability to pay for college costs. It won’t show up for incomplete applications, though. Instead, you’ll see a message directing you to the “What You Must Do Now” section to remedy the issues.
  • Data Release Number (DRN). The DRN is the number you’ll share with financial aid offices or the Federal Student Aid Information Center if you need to change your mailing address or send schools your SAR information. If you’re viewing the SAR electronically, you can find the DRN in the box at the top of each tab. It also includes the date the application was received and the processing date. Paper SARs include the DRN on the first page in the top right corner.
  • FAFSA Data. In the FAFSA Data section, you’ll see summaries of your answers to questions asked on the FAFSA.
  • Financial Aid History. You’ll see a summary of your outstanding federal student loans, any reported aid you shared in your FAFSA and your estimated eligibility for Pell Grants and federal student loans for the upcoming year.
  • School Information. You can list up to 10 schools to receive your SAR on your FAFSA. You’ll see these schools listed on your SAR, with information about graduation rates, retention rates and transfer rates.
  • Verification. Some applications are selected for verification purposes. You’ll see an asterisk next to your EFC if your application was selected for this process. Verification is a step used by your potential school to verify the information you submitted on your FAFSA. Not everyone is selected for verification.
  • “What You Must Do Now.” If you have an incomplete application, the SAR will detail what you need to submit to have a completed application. It may also include instructions on what to do if you’ve made an error in your FAFSA.

How do you find your Student Aid Report?

You can find your SAR in a few days:

  • Email. Once you complete your FAFSA, you’ll receive instructions on accessing your SAR online. You’ll generally receive a copy of your SAR within three to five days. If you didn’t provide an email address, expect a slightly longer wait of seven to 10 days.
  • Federal Student Aid Website. You can log into your Federal Student Aid account anytime to access your SAR. First, go to the “My FAFSA” page, then select “View SAR.” This should bring up your completed Student Aid Report once it’s ready for viewing.
  • Mail. If you didn’t give an email address on your FAFSA, you can request a copy of your SAR from the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243. This could take a few weeks to get processed and delivered. You will also receive a copy if you included an invalid Social Security number or didn’t sign your FAFSA form before submitting it.

The bottom line

Once you’ve completed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), be on the lookout for your SAR. It summarizes your entries, and you want to confirm it’s accurate to avoid missing out on potential aid.

Review the “What You Must Do Now” to confirm no further action is needed regarding the form from your end. Your college could need verification of your financial information, so check to see if there’s an asterisk by the EFC.

Taking the necessary actions promptly ensures the timely processing of your financial aid application. You’ll also be better positioned to receive monetary awards before they’re exhausted.

Frequently asked questions

  • You can make changes to your entries online at Login to access your FAFSA and select the “Make Corrections” option found on the homepage of the online dashboard.

    Changes to your Social Security number cannot be made online. You’ll need to resubmit a new FAFSA to rectify this issue.
  • When you receive your SAR, review it to ensure the financial information listed is accurate. If you spot errors, adjust your FAFSA right away. Also, refer to the “What You Must Do Now” section to verify there are no outstanding issues. Otherwise, you risk missing out on funds you’re entitled to that can help cover your higher education expenses.

    Contact your school’s financial aid office if you need additional assistance.
  • Electronic filers who complete the FAFSA online and provide an email address could receive a SAR within three to five days of completing the FAFSA. Those who submitted online but did not provide an email address should expect a turnaround closer to seven to 10 days.

    Filers who submit the FAFSA by mail will have a longer wait time. Those who provide an email address should receive a result within two weeks, and those who don’t should receive a result within three weeks.