How long does it take for my school to receive my FAFSA data?

Depending on whether the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is completed online or on paper, it can take up to two weeks to process a student’s FAFSA and send a Student Aid Report (SAR) to the student. The school will receive the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) at the same time as the student receives the SAR. The ISIR contains the same information as the SAR, including the student’s expected family contribution (EFC), but in an electronic format.

This table summarizes the time it typically takes for a SAR to be received by the student, based on whether the FAFSA was filed online, whether the FAFSA was signed electronically with a Federal Student Aid Personal Identification Number (PIN) and whether the student provided an email address on the FAFSA. If the student did not provide an email address on the FAFSA or the email bounces, a paper SAR will be mailed to the student’s home address listed on the FAFSA.

Filed the FAFSA Online? Signed the FAFSA with PINs? Provided Email Address on the FAFSA? Time to Receive SAR Type of SAR
Yes Yes Yes 3-5 days Link by email
Yes Yes No 7-10 days Paper by mail
Yes No Yes 2 weeks Link by email
Yes No No 2 weeks Paper by mail
No No Yes 2 weeks Link by email
No No No 3 weeks Paper by mail

Students who file the FAFSA online but do not provide an email address will receive a paper SAR Acknowledgment instead of a paper SAR. Like the SAR, a SAR acknowledgment lists the student’s FAFSA data. But any corrections to the SAR Acknowledgment must be made online, instead of returning the paper SAR after making corrections on it.

Note that some colleges base the deadlines for their own financial aid funds on the date the ISIR is received, not the date the FAFSA is filed. So it is best to file the FAFSA early (two weeks before the school’s published FAFSA deadline), to ensure that the college receives the FAFSA data by the college’s published FAFSA deadline.

If the student has not yet received the SAR, he or she can check on the status of the FAFSA by visiting FAFSA on the Web at www.fafsa.ed.gov (use the student’s name, Social Security number, and date of birth) or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

After the college receives the ISIR and other financial aid forms, and confirms the student’s admissions status, the financial aid office will begin assembling a financial aid package to help the student pay for college. Most colleges mail financial aid award letters (financial aid notifications) in late March or early April.

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