What Is The Student Aid Report (SAR)?

Written by Animesh Prasad

The journey on which Animesh embarked to become an engineer ended up with him turning into a content writer. As he progressed to his final year, he realized engineering isn't really his forte and pursued his love for writing. He has a deep interest in finance and loves traveling.

June 4, 2021

If you have recently submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) then the next step would be receiving a SAR. This acronym SAR stands for Student Aid Report. Now if you have never set your eyes on a SAR before, know that it is going to be a dizzying experience. This paper or electronic document will look very formal, official and important with way too many acronyms and numbers. While this document is really long on data, it is rather short on detailed explanation and relevant information. 

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about what is the Student Aid Report (SAR) in depth. 

Why Is The Student Aid Report Important? | Student Aid Report Views   

What is a student aid report ? The Student Aid Report provides all information pertaining to your financial aid eligibility. The report includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and your answers to questions on the FAFSA. It also includes your four-digit data release number (DRN), which you’ll need if you want to give a college the ability to add its school code to your application. 

The SAR plays an important role since your financial aid awards are based on the information listed in your report. It will be used as a reference by your college and financial administrator to calculate your eligibility for financial grants. The EFC listed on your student aid report will determine the amount of aid you’ll receive.

Note: Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace Expected Family Contribution (EFC) starting from July 2023. The switch from EFC to SAI is all about clarifying the index’s purpose. In order to know more about the Student Aid Index please read our blog: Student Aid Index: All You Need To Know About The Changes In Financial Aid.

What To Look For On Your Student Aid Report | How To View Student Aid Report

It is important to know all the terms on your SAR before searching about how to get a student aid report. Following are the important terms that you will find on your SAR. In this section, read the terms and know where you can find them. A brief explanation for each term is given later on so don’t worry, we have got you covered. 

Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Where To Find: Page 1, underneath the date near the top right of your SAR. 

What Is It: The EFC is the amount the federal government believes that your family will be able to contribute toward your college costs. It is based on the financial information provided by you in FAFSA. This is not necessarily the amount you will have to pay. Detailed information is given later on. 

Verification

Where To Find: If there is an asterisk present next to your EFC, it means that your SAR has been flagged for verification. 

What Is It: It means your student aid report requires further verification.

Data Release Number (DRN)

Where To Find: Page 1, in the lower left-hand corner (upper-right corner of the electronic version).

What Is It: The DRN is a four-digit reference number.

Loan Summary

Where To Find: Page 4, the top half of the page. 

What Is It: Your outstanding federal student loans (if any) will be listed on this page.

If you are looking forward to becoming an international student and need assistance with student loans, all you have to do is fill the form in this blog.

FAFSA Changes

Where To Find: Pages 5 through 10. 

What Is It: These pages provide you a chance to correct any information that was entered incorrectly the first time you filed your FAFSA.

Pell Grant Eligibility 

Where To Find: SAR Acknowledgement letter, near the bottom of the text.

Recommended Reading: All You Need to Know About Federal Pell Grant

Understanding The Student Aid Report

Knowing where to find these terms and what they are isn’t sufficient. Making sense out of the Student Aid Report is a critical aspect. It is important to understand a SAR before finding out how to get a student aid report. So let’s see what each of the terms listed above imply and understand in detail why is it important to review the student aid report.

Expected Family Contribution: EFC isn’t necessarily the amount your family will actually end up paying for your education. Instead, this figure represents the amount the government believes your family will be able to contribute, based on your family’s income, assets, number of college-age students and other vital factors.

The actual amount that you have to pay could be less than, equal or greater than your EFC. Why is this so? This is because the federal processor uses a different set of formulas while calculating EFC and your college may use another formula (institutional methodology). It results in a final EFC that differs in both places.  

Verification: Firstly, you need not worry if your SAR has been selected for verification. In no way does it mean that you have done anything wrong. It affects about 30 percent of all SARs annually and is a relatively routine request. It simply means that you may have to show additional financial documentation to your college in order to qualify for federal aid. 

Data Release Number (DRN): You’ll need to reference this number if you want to make your Student Aid Report available to schools you did not include originally in your FAFSA. 

Loan Summary: Here you can review the loans listed and make sure they are correct. If you have no federal loans, then there is no need to review this section. If you want to review your outstanding loans in greater detail, you can visit the National Student Loan Data System’s Website. You will need the same Federal Student Aid ID you used to sign your FAFSA to access your loan information. 

FAFSA Changes: It is important that you check all the information on the last few pages of the SAR to make sure it’s correct. In case something is incorrect, you can make changes to your processed FAFSA in the space provided, or you make changes online. 

Read More: FAFSA for International Students

Pell Grant Eligibility: This is a grant given to very low-income families and it is difficult to meet the standards required to receive one. So don’t be surprised if you are not eligible, most students aren’t.

Also Read: Financial Requirements at different stages of a US Masters Admission Process

When To Expect The Student Aid Report

You’ll receive your student aid report depending upon the method you chose to submit your FAFSA.

  • If you provided an email address when you submitted your FAFSA, you can expect to receive your SAR within a few days of electronically filing.
  • If you filed a paper FAFSA, you should receive your SAR via postal mail in three to four weeks.

You can find a sample of the SAR here: Example Student Aid Report

Thank you for reading this blog ‘What Is The Student Aid Report (SAR)?’.  We hope it helped you understand what a SAR is and why is it important to review the student aid report.

If you enjoyed reading this blog and would like to continue reading more about financial aids for students then do check out our following blogs.

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