FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students seeking federal financial aid must apply every year to remain eligible. It’s critical to keep track of your FAFSA status so you can quickly repair any errors or send in additional documentation as needed.
If you’re like the majority of college students, you might need grants or a student loan or two to help pay for school. You’re not eligible for federal aid money if you don’t submit the FAFSA.
Because this form is so crucial to financing your college career, be sure to carefully fill it out and monitor its progress through the system. You’ll want to stay on top of any changes or mistakes or extra documentation required. It can be a daunting application, so you may want to seek help from someone with a higher level of financial literacy if you’re having trouble.
Checking FAFSA status
After you’ve filled out the FAFSA, which includes personal finance information about you and your parents, it will take a short time to process. If you fill out a paper FAFSA and mail it in it will take about seven to 10 days. For online applications, this should take between three and five days to show up on your account. You can also use the myStudentAid mobile app to conveniently apply through your phone and track it from there.
After a few days, you can check with your school’s financial aid office or you can look online to see if your application has been processed. Be sure to have your Financial Student Aid number (your FSA ID) handy because that’s your password to get you in.
How to check your FAFSA application status
If you completed a paper FAFSA application and mailed it (how retro of you), it will take about seven to 10 days to process. For online applications, expect three to five days before it shows up on your account.
- Log in to FAFSA.gov
- Go to “My FAFSA” page (which should appear immediately if you have already filled in your FAFSA form)
- You status should appear on the screen. The four options are processing, processed, missing signatures, and action required.
- Check with your college’s financial aid office if you want the status on when your financial aid will be disbursed.
What do the statuses on my application mean?
After you log onto fafsa.gov to check the status of your account, click on “MY FAFSA.” On your personal FAFSA page, you’ll see one of the following statuses:
- Processing. Your application is still being reviewed.
- Processed successfully. Your application has been reviewed without issue. There’s nothing you need to complete.
- Missing signatures. You or your parents forgot to sign one of the pages or forms in your application.
- Action required. More information is needed before completing your application. Contact your school (or schools, if you listed more than one) to fix the problem.
What happens after my application is processed?
Within a few weeks after you’ve completed and submitted your FAFSA information, your Student Aid Report (SAR) will be generated based on that data. Depending on how you applied, you will receive an email with instructions on how to access your SAR. If you haven’t supplied an email address, you’ll get a paper acknowledgment by regular mail.
The SAR summarizes the financial information you and your parents provided on your application. It will also outline your expected family contribution, your basic eligibility for financial aid, and if you have been selected for verification. If you are selected, don’t worry, it just means the school wants some further documentation to complete your application.
Review your SAR very carefully. If you find any mistakes or have any changes in your status or income, you’ll need to amend your application since schools use this data to compile your financial aid package.
How to review and correct your FAFSA and SAR
You can’t change most information on the application you filled out. This is because when you sign and date it, you certify that information is correct as of that date. However, you can easily update your mailing address, email address, or other contact info by logging into your account online. You can also add or remove colleges listed on your application as you narrow down your choices.
If you need to make any changes to your dependency status or financial information, it’s a little trickier. You can complete an entirely new application, which the Federal Student Aid office recommends, but depending on how close you are to the deadline, this might not be feasible. If, for example, you or your parent have recently lost a job, contact the school’s financial aid services office immediately and they can update your most recent income data.
How to update your information online
- Go to the fafsa.gov site and click LOG IN
- Enter your FSA ID to access your MYFAFSA page
- Click on “Make Corrections”
- Create a save key
- Change your information
- Submit the new information
What happens with your student aid report?
Once your SAR is generated, it will go to the colleges listed on your FAFSA. Theoretically, each school will receive an award letter listing the amount of federal and non-federal financial aid you are offered. However, many schools won’t accept that information until they have more of a commitment. Contact your school of choice to find out what else they require from you to assemble your financial award.
The package will include any federal grants, student loans, or work-study programs included in your SAR as well as any non-federal money. This is important to know so you can see if you’ll receive enough funding to start school in the fall.
- To receive a federal grant or student loan, you must submit the FAFSA each year.
- Whether you submit your application online or by mail, it will take less than two weeks to process. You can check your application’s status online.
- Resolve to submit your application well ahead of the deadline to give yourself the most time to deal with any issues that might occur.
- If you have big changes to your income or other information, you might need to submit a new form or visit your school’s financial aid services.
- The award letter is based on the SAR and spells out the amounts and types of financial aid you’re eligible to receive.
View Article Sources
- How to Review and Correct Your FAFSA® Application — Federal Student Aid
- When should I correct or update my FAFSA® information? — Federal Student Aid
- Does FAFSA Check Your Bank Accounts For Eligibility — American Veterinary Medical Association
- 2021 Student Loan Industry Study — SuperMoney
- Ultimate Guide to Financial Aid — SuperMoney
- Do You Have to Pay Back Financial Aid? — SuperMoney
- How to Pay for College – 7 Ways to Reduce Student Debt — SuperMoney
- How to Save for College: Complete Guide to Saving for Education — SuperMoney