Student Aid Report (SAR)
Within two to four weeks of FAFSA submission you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). This is not an aid package; it is the output document of the data submitted on the FAFSA, and the basis for the determination of your EFC. In making the EFC assessment the federal government and financial aid offices use "need formulas" that analyze your financial circumstances and compares them proportionally with other families' financial circumstances. If any information is incorrect or incomplete, you can make the changes and submit the SAR for reprocessing. Based on the correct SAR, you will then be receiving financial aid letters from the different schools applied to; it's now time to sit down, assess and compare.
No one expects you to meet these expenses based on current income alone;
If the breakdown seems unclear or overwhelming, use The College Board's 'CompareYour Aid Awards' computation tool (very user friendly) to compare aid awards from different schools.
Call the financial aid office of a particular college if you have a question about your SAR or a specific award package and ask for clarification and assistance. Be clear. If the question is significant you may have to make an appointment for a face to face visit. But even before picking up the phone, examine the calculations carefully, this is the office's busiest time. If you've done the calculations with due diligence before hand and utilized necessary tools, you might well be surprised at how correct you are!
Now that you know your options and the formula, click here to find out how to apply for financial aid.