Congratulations! You submitted your 2017–18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)! Wondering what happens next? Here are a few things to look out for:
1. Your FAFSA confirmation page is not your financial aid award.
After you complete the FAFSA online and click “SUBMIT,” you’ll see a confirmation page like the one below. This is not your award package. You’ll get that separately from the school(s) you apply to and get into. Your school(s) calculate your aid.
The confirmation page provides federal aid estimates based on the information you provided on your FAFSA. It’s important to know that these figures are truly estimates and assume the information you provided on the FAFSA is correct. To calculate the actual amount of aid you’re eligible for, your school will take into account other factors, such as the cost to attend the school. Additionally, these estimates only take into account federal aid and not outside scholarships or state and institutional financial assistance you may also be eligible for.
TIP: Each school you are accepted to and include on your FAFSA will send you a financial aid award. Until you receive this award letter/notification from a school, it may be difficult to know exactly how much aid you might be eligible to receive from that specific school. To get an idea of how much aid schools tend to give depending on your family’s income, visit CollegeScorecard.ed.gov
2. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is just one of many factors used to calculate your aid.
The information you report on your FAFSA is used to calculate your EFC. It’s very important to note that the EFC, in most cases, is not the exact amount of money your family will have to pay for college. Instead, the EFC is an index number used by financial aid offices to calculate how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school. The formula they use is:
Cost of attendance
– Expected family contribution
Your financial “need”
Each school will then do its best to meet your financial need. Some schools may meet 100% of your financial need, and other schools may only meet 10%–it just depends on the school and the financial aid they have available that year. You should complete the FAFSA annually because there are many factors that can change each year you plan to be in school.
NOTE: Contrary to popular belief, the EFC formula considers more than just income. Factors such as dependency status, family size, and the number of children in your family who are attending college are just a few of the additional factors considered.
3. You won’t receive an award letter from your school right away.
Even though the 2017-18 FAFSA is available in October this year, that doesn’t mean you’ll get an award letter earlier. Some schools may send you an award letter earlier, while other schools may stick to the timeline they have used in the past.
Remember that your school disburses your aid, not the FAFSA, and each school has a different schedule. Contact your school for details about when they send out award letters. If you want to see an estimate of your school’s average annual cost, use the College Scorecard. If you want to report significant changes in your family or financial situation, contact your school’s financial aid office.
TIP: After completing your FAFSA, it’s always a good idea to double-check with the financial aid offices at the schools you applied to. You should find out if they need additional paperwork or have other deadlines.
4. You can submit a FAFSA correction later, such as adding a school.
After your FAFSA has been submitted and processed (takes about 3 days), you can go back and submit a correction to certain fields. This includes correcting a mistake or adding another school to receive your FAFSA information. Login with your FSA ID, and then click “Make FAFSA Corrections.” You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, follow these steps.
Sandra Vuong is a Digital Engagement Strategist at Federal Student Aid.