Student Aid Report (SAR) and
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
About four to six weeks after you submit the FAFSA (2-3 weeks for FAFSA on the Web), you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR summarizes the information you provided on the FAFSA, and indicates the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). (If there's an asterisk next to the EFC figure on the SAR, it means your FAFSA has been selected for verification.)
The EFC is the amount of money your family will be expected to contribute to your education. The EFC is subtracted from the school's Cost of Attendance (COA), also known as the "student budget", to arrive at your financial need: Financial Need = COA - EFC. The student budget includes tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, travel, and personal and incidental expenses.
You may find your EFC figure to be painfully high. This often occurs because the need analysis formulas are heavily weighted toward current income. In addition, the formulas consider your income and assets without taking many common forms of consumer debt into account, such as credit card balances and auto loans. Finally, student income and assets can add significantly to the EFC figure.
FinAid provides a few tips on legal ways you can reduce your EFC and thereby maximize your eligibility for financial aid.
If you do not receive your SAR, call the federal processor at 1-800-4-FED-AID or 1-319-337-5665. They will ask for your Social Security number and date of birth as verification, and will tell you whether your FAFSA has been processed. You can also write to the federal processor at
Federal Student Aid Programs
Carefully review all of the information on the SAR to make sure it is correct. If there are any errors, call the school's financial aid administrator to ask how you should make corrections. The item numbers printed on the SAR correspond with the question numbers on the FAFSA form.
The federal processor will send a copy of your SAR to each of the schools you listed on the FAFSA. If you need additional copies of the SAR, call the federal processor and ask for a duplicate SAR.
Keep your copy of the SAR in the same folder that contains your copy of the FAFSA and the records you used to complete the FAFSA.
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