Student Aid Report: What Is It and How Does It Work?

After you complete the FAFSA, you'll get a Student Aid Report with basic information about your eligibility for federal funds.
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Published on December 21, 2023
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  • A Student Aid Report (SAR) summarizes a student's eligibility for federal financial aid.
  • This estimate is the result of submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • The SAR isn't an award letter but estimates how much money schools may offer you.
  • Colleges use SARs to make students offers for grants, scholarships, and more funding.

The Student Aid Report (SAR) is what colleges see after you submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application.

Students looking to attend an institute of higher education in the U.S., whether a college or career school, are eligible for various federal and state aid and scholarships from the schools themselves. SAR estimates what schools should provide you and what your family is expected to provide.

This last number, the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), will be replaced in the 2024-2025 FAFSA with the Student Aid Index (SAI) as the key metric.

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What Is a Student Aid Report (SAR)?

The Student Aid Report shows your financial aid eligibility for the academic year. It is not a financial aid offer, but school financial aid officers use it to make financial aid offers.

The SAR estimates how much federal money you can receive for higher education and how much your family is expected to contribute. The SAR summarizes information reported on the FAFSA.

While the SAR isn't an award letter, it is the precursor to an award letter — or several. It's up to the colleges you named on your FAFSA to use the SAR to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid like Pell Grants, state grants, work-study programs, and scholarships. Most schools send aid offers only after accepting students for admission.

What's on the Student Aid Report?

You can access your SAR online at the Federal Student Aid Website or request to receive a copy by mail. We'll help you understand the essential parts of the form to communicate with colleges.

Data Release Number (DRN)

The four-digit Data Release Number (DRN) appears on the first page of the SAR. You'll need to share this number if you want to authorize your school to amend your FAFSA.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index number that calculates your family's wealth and what they're expected to contribute financially to your education. The EFC is used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. The formula will be updated in the FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year.

Pell Grant Eligibility

SAR informs you whether you may be eligible for a Pell Grant and estimates an award amount. Like all other funds, whether and how much of a Pell Grant you may receive depends on individual schools. Need-based Pell Grants are the largest single fund for undergraduates.

Loan Summary

If you are a continuing student and have outstanding federal student loans, the SAR will include a portion that details your balance and repayment schedule.

How Do You Get Your Student Aid Report?

Student Aid Reports are generated quickly. Once a FAFSA application has been processed, a SAR is typically available to both the student and their chosen schools within a week.

Students can access SAR upon logging in to the same Federal Student Aid (FSA) account used to submit FAFSA. You can also request a mailed copy by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.

Next Steps Once You Receive Your Student Aid Report

Once your Student Aid Report has been generated, review it carefully for accuracy. If you need to make any corrections, there are online tools to help resolve issues. If everything checks out, keep a copy of the SAR for your records. Then, wait to receive financial aid award offers from schools.

When it comes to actually receiving funds, direct questions to schools. Contact school financial aid offices about available grants, loans, and programs. You can also reach out to the schools you applied to ask questions on submitted information for accuracy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Student Aid Report

How do I correct my student aid report?

Log in to the same Federal Student Aid (FSA) account used to submit FAFSA to find a digital copy of your SAR and make any changes. The system should flag any errors or omissions. If you filed a hardcopy FAFSA, call 1-800-4-FED-AID.

How and when will I get my student aid report?

If you filed online, you will receive an email notification that your SAR is ready for you via a link. If you filed by mail, you will receive the report by mail.

Depending on whether you are receiving a digital or paper SAR, you will see the report either three days or up to two weeks after your FAFSA has been submitted.

What does my student aid report mean?

The SAR estimates what colleges that receive federal funding should offer you based on your family's finances. It tells you how much federal and state money you could get for school and whether you are likely to receive a Pell Grant.

How do I convince FAFSA to give me more money?

If the amount of aid quoted in your SAR seems low, verify the information you submitted on the FAFSA is accurate. If everything is correct, then it's still possible to negotiate for more. You can appeal to the financial aid offices of the colleges where you have been accepted. Both consider need- and merit-based appeals and may have criteria for special circumstances, such as loss of income, medical expenses, or natural disasters.

What is the maximum Pell Grant for 2023?

The maximum federal Pell Grant for the 2023-2024 school year is $7,395. Nearly 40% of undergraduate students receive some Pell Grant funding each year.

Page last reviewed: December 11, 2023. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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