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Don’t get me wrong, filing your FAFSA is a big deal…a really big deal! But it’s really just the starting point of the financial aid process. What comes next is a lot of watching and waiting. You will need to watch your email, mailbox, and college-based student portal for the following documents.

Student Aid Report

Watch your email for a link to your student aid report (SAR). It should arrive 3-5 days after you complete the FAFSA. The SAR will let you know that your FAFSA was received and if there’s more you need to do before your application can be processed.


Wait to hear from the colleges you included on your FAFSA to see if you were selected for verification. If so, they will notify you via your student portal or email to let you know what documents are required to verify the information on your FAFSA. The college will not process your financial aid until you provide the required documents, so don’t delay!

Award letter

Were you excepted for admission at all the colleges you listed on your FAFSA? If so, you should expect to receive an award letter from each of those schools. Watch your student portal, email, or mailbox for the notifications.

The award letter will explain the types of financial aid offered by each school based on your FAFSA results. Respond to all award letters by their deadlines, and then compare the awards to determine what you will need to spend out-of-pocket or borrow to cover the full cost of your education at each school. This is the moment of truth; it will help you determine what school you will attend in the fall.

Applying for student loans

After you select a college, determine if you or your parents will need to apply for loans to cover the cost of your education. If so, the college will direct you to the necessary forms.

Before you borrow to cover college expenses, carefully consider all your options, including scholarships, living at home, attending a lower cost school, and working part time to cover personal expenses. Borrow as little as possible so you don’t leave college with a huge amount of debt.

The entire financial aid process takes months and a lot of patience, but since most students have some type of financial aid to help pay for college, it’s worth the wait. If you have questions about financial aid, contact the EducationQuest location nearest you. We are here to help.