What Comes After Submitting the FAFSA?
Once you have completed and submitted your student aid application (FAFSA), you
will probably take a deep breath and wonder, "What's next?" Here are some tips to
help you and your family stay ahead of the game:
- Review your
Student Aid Report (SAR)
for accuracy. Your SAR, sent to you by the federal Department of Education, summarizes
the information you have provided on your
Don't worry if you find errors or need to update your information. You can
online, on paper, or by telephone.
- Once you have confirmed that the information on your SAR is correct, you must
sign your FAFSA
and submit the signature page.
- Check to see if any of the colleges you applied to require that you submit additional
forms to receive student aid, such as a CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®, which is
managed by the College Board's College Scholarship Service. Don't forget that there
is a fee for each CSS/PROFILE® you complete.
state-based student aid programs
have additional forms that you must complete to qualify for aid. You can either
check your state's education department website or get a
College Cost & Planning Report®
to help you manage these required form deadlines.
- If you are going to attend college in the fall, student aid offices will usually
send your award letters in March or April. Compare your student aid award letters.
Remember, not all types of aid are the same. Scholarships are the best type of aid
because you don't repay them. Grants are also "free money," although some federal
grants convert to loans if you fail to meet the service obligations (as is the case
Evaluate your offers carefully to decide which aid package is best for your circumstances.
- If you are dissatisfied with your aid awards, call the colleges and talk with
the financial aid administrators. They may be open to reconsideration if your personal
circumstances have changed or for other valid reasons.
- Once you have selected the college you are going to attend, notify the financial
aid office about which portions of the student aid offer you are going to accept.
You don't have to accept all parts of your aid offer, but be sure to accept the
grants and scholarships!
- If you accept a
federal student loan,
you (or your parents if they are the "borrower") must sign a Master Promissory Note
(MPN). An MPN is a legal document declaring that you (and your parents) understand
all the terms and implications of the loan and agree to repay it at the specified
interest rate and within the time limit imposed. Contact your college's financial
aid administrators for a paper MPN, or visit the federal Department of Education's
website to sign your MPN electronically.
- If you are a first-time recipient of a
Loan, you must participate in a loan-counseling session. Ask your college's financial
aid administrators for more information, or complete the counseling online at the
federal Department of Education's website.
- Most student aid awards are routed directly to the college, but this can vary
from one college to the next. Most likely, your college will directly apply your
awards to your cost of attendance bill. The financial aid administrator will send
you a refund check if your account has a credit balance, or a bill if you owe money.
Once you have selected a college and secured your financial aid package, the real
fun begins: getting ready for your first year of college!
Remember, many student aid programs require you to reapply each year. You may also
become eligible for aid that you didn't receive earlier. To stay on top of changes
in student aid, visit StudentAid.com when you are ready to reapply.