Financial Aid and the Ever Important Student Aid Report (SAR) - Association of Certified College Planning Specialists

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Financial Aid and the Ever Important Student Aid Report (SAR)

SAR, SAR Acknowledgement,

Financial Aid and the Ever Important Student Aid Report (SAR)
image credit: screengrab from Studentaid.gov

It’s that time again - the next stage of the financial aid process - when families start to receive their Student Aid Reports (SAR). Banks do not issue loans without ensuring credit worthiness, employers do not hire employees without proper qualifications, and colleges do not give out scholarships and grants without proper financial documentation. The SAR is a very integral part of that financial aid documentation. As such, it’s really important to understand how it works.

Your SAR summarizes the information you provided on your FAFSA and indicates your official Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The financial aid office(s) will then use the information from your SAR to prepare a custom financial aid package for you based on the types and amount of aid for which you are eligible.

Here are some guidelines you need to follow so that your SAR is processed successfully for the 2017-2018 school year:

How and when will I get my SAR?

Whether you receive your SAR online or on paper depends on whether you provide an email address on your FAFSA. If you provide a valid email address, you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to access an online copy of your SAR.

If you don't provide a valid email address on your FAFSA, you will receive either a SAR or SAR Acknowledgement via postal mail.

  • The SAR lists your FAFSA information and provides space for you to make corrections. You will receive a paper SAR if you file a paper FAFSA and don’t provide an email address.

  • The SAR Acknowledgement lists your FAFSA information, but you’ll need to make any corrections at the FAFSA website at fafsa.gov. You’ll receive a SAR Acknowledgement if you file an electronic FAFSA and don’t provide an email address.

If you have an FSA ID (username and password) and your FAFSA has been processed, you can log in at the FAFSA site to view SAR information regardless of whether you filed the online or paper FAFSA or provided an email address or not.

The school(s) you list on your FAFSA will have access to your SAR data electronically within a day after it is processed. Here’s a summary of what you’ll receive, and how soon after filing your FAFSA, based on what type of FAFSA you file:

Type of FAFSA submitted

Email supplied?

Type of SAR received

When SAR arrives (at the latest)*

fafsa.gov

Yes

Email link to SAR information online

If FAFSA signed with FSA ID(s): 3–5 days; if signature page used: 2 weeks

fafsa.gov

No

Paper SAR Acknowledgement

If FAFSA signed with FSA ID(s): 7–10 days; if signature page used: 2 weeks

FAFSA submitted by school

Yes

Email link to online SAR

3–5 days

FAFSA submitted by school

No

Paper SAR Acknowledgement

7–10 days

Paper FAFSA

Yes

Email link to online SAR

2 weeks

Paper FAFSA

No

Paper SAR

3 weeks

Corrections at fafsa.gov

Yes

Email link to online SAR

1–5 days; Depending on type of changes, updated SAR may be immediately available at FAFSA site. If you don’t see your SAR immediately, wait for your email or paper version.

Corrections at fafsa.gov

No

Paper SAR Acknowledgement

7–10 days; Depending on type of changes, updated SAR may be immediately available at FAFSA site. If you don’t see your SAR immediately, wait for your email or paper version.

*The time frames in this table indicate how long it takes for the SAR to arrive after the FAFSA is submitted.

What information does a SAR contain?

If your application is complete, an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will display in the upper right-hand corner of your SAR. If your application is incomplete, your SAR will not include an EFC, but it will tell you what you need to do to resolve any issues.

The SAR also contains a four-digit Data Release Number (DRN), which appears on the first page in the upper right corner of the paper SAR and SAR Acknowledgement. On the electronic SAR the DRN is located in the box that contains the Application Receipt date, below the EFC. You will need the DRN if you choose to allow your college or career school to change certain information on your FAFSA.

What am I supposed to do with my SAR?

When you get your SAR, review it carefully to make sure it’s correct and complete. The school(s) you listed on your FAFSA will use your information to determine your eligibility for federal—and possibly nonfederal—financial aid. A school may ask you to verify the accuracy of the data you provide on the FAFSA, so you need to be sure the information is correct.

If you don’t have any changes to make to the information listed on your SAR, just keep it for your records.

If you review your SAR and find a mistake, you will need to correct or update your FAFSA. You can get appropriate instructions for correcting or updating your FAFSA here.

So that’s it. Follow these simple guidelines and you can pretty much ensure this very important part of the financial aid process will go smoothly. Then once your SAR is accurate and complete and you are eligible for federal student financial aid, each school in which you were admitted will send you an award letter. 



 

 
Ron Them

Ron developed and trademarked the CCPS® (Certified College Planning Specialist) designation. For over 20 years, the nation's leading financial advisors, broker/dealers, and major media outlets have been using his research, funding strategies, training, and insight. Ron is highly regarded as an expert in the college funding field.

He is a former Chief Financial Officer of a Fortune 500 company and currently owns his own financial advisory company specializing in cash flow planning for business owners and executives. He developed the Cash Flow Recovery™ process that uses cash flow management principals to increase asset value and build wealth for business owners.

He is also the originator of several software calculators to help advisors and families make college affordable, including:

  • College QuikPlan EFC Calculator
  • "Find the Money" College Cash Flow Calculator
  • College Debt Reduction Calculator

Ron has been quoted in U.S. News and World Report, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Smart Money, Financial Advisor Magazine, Small Firm Profit Report, Practical Accountant, LIMRA's Market Facts, Senior Advisors Magazine, HR Magazine, BenefitNews.com, Employee Benefit News Magazine, ProducersWeb.com, Entrepreneur Magazine, Insurance Selling Magazine, CollegeNews.com, The Christian Voice, and Columbus CEO Magazine.

 

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