Free FAFSA Guide
Summary: After you submit your FAFSA, you will receive an important document from the U.S. Department of Education — the Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR will provide your expected family contribution (EFC) and other information about your student aid.
After you file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the U.S. Department of Education. The SAR will provide:
- A summary of the information you submitted on your FAFSA
- Your expected family contribution (EFC)
- An estimate of your eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant and federal student loans
- Your unique Data Release Number (DRN)
If you provided a valid email address on the FAFSA, you will receive a Notification of SAR Processing by email, which provides a link to your processed SAR online (eSAR). If you didn’t provide a valid email address, you will receive a paper SAR or SAR Acknowledgement by mail (at the permanent home address that was listed on the FAFSA).
College Information on the SAR
Download the PDF: Sample Student Aid Report
In addition to your EFC, the Student Aid Report also includes information about each of the colleges you listed on the FAFSA, including graduation rates, retention rates, and transfer rates.
The graduation rate is the percentage of students who receive a degree or certificate within 150% of the normal timeframe for receiving a degree or certificate (6 years for a 4-year program). The higher the graduation rate, the higher the number of students who graduate from that school within the timeframe.
The retention rate is the percentage of first-time, first-year undergraduate students who return to college the next year. The higher the retention rate, the more students return after freshman year.
The transfer rate is the percentage of the first-time, first-year undergraduate students who transfer to another college or university within 150% of the normal timeframe for getting a degree or certificate. The higher the transfer rate, the more students transferred to another school after freshman year.
Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR)
Each college or university that you list in Section 2 on the FAFSA will receive an Institutional Student Information Record or “ISIR.” This is an electronic record of all the information you and your family reported on the FAFSA.
Colleges use the ISIR to determine your eligibility for federal student aid and to create your financial aid package. The colleges receive an ISIR at about the same time as you receive the SAR.
Adding Colleges to the FAFSA
There are two ways to change the list of colleges:
- Add the additional colleges to your SAR
- Change the list of colleges online at FAFSA.ed.gov
These colleges will then be sent your information.
Colleges can also obtain a SAR if you give the financial aid administrator the four-digit Data Release Number (DRN). The DRN is located in the upper right corner of the first page of the paper SAR. On an electronic SAR, the DRN appears below the EFC in the box with the application receipt date.
Review the SAR and Make Corrections
You should review the SAR for accuracy. You can make corrections on the electronic or paper SAR.
If you left any fields blank on the FAFSA, some items on the SAR will be marked with an asterisk. The U.S. Department of Education will make a reasonable guess to fill in those fields. But you should correct those fields if the amounts are wrong.
You (and your parents, if you’re a dependent student) should also use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to update the income and tax information on the FAFSA after you file your federal income tax returns.
- File the FAFSA every year to maintain eligibility for student aid.
- Review your SAR or SAR Acknowledgement carefully. If you haven’t decided on a school, the information on the SAR can help you choose.
- To submit corrections and changes, log in with your FSA ID at FAFSA.ed.gov (if applicable) for faster processing. Or, write in the corrections or changes on your paper SAR, sign, and mail it to the address provided.
- Be sure to keep a copy of the SAR with the rest of your financial aid documents. Private scholarship providers may also require a copy of the SAR as part of their application materials.