What is a Student Aid Report?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A Student Aid Report (SAR) is a document which summarizes the information provided in a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a government document which students in the United States who want to receive financial assistance must fill out. Many colleges and universities use the FAFSA as a primary financial aid application, occasionally requesting additional information from students. The SAR is the document which will be sent to financial aid offices, and it is used to prepare financial aid packages.

A student loan and financial aid application.
A student loan and financial aid application.

After students fill out a FAFSA, they will be sent a copy of the Student Aid Report. Students are responsible for reviewing the report to ensure that it is accurate. Review is recommended because inaccuracies could impact financial aid eligibility.

College students receiving financial aid in the U.S. must fill out a FAFSA.
College students receiving financial aid in the U.S. must fill out a FAFSA.

The bulk of the report consists of a summary of the information provided by the student, from the student's name and address to information about income. It's common for students to make small mistakes when filling out the form, like adding a zero where one shouldn't be, or accidentally transposing an address, making review of the information critical. If there are errors, the student will need to submit an amended FAFSA, and it can be a good idea to notify the financial aid office so that they are aware of the issue.

There's some other information on the Student Aid Report that can very useful. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) indicates how much the government thinks that the student's family can afford to contribute to educational costs. The loan summary provides a list of outstanding student loans in the student's name, and it can be checked to confirm that the data is accurate. The document may also have a note indicating that the student has been selected for verification, which means that he or she will need to submit supporting documents like copies of tax returns.

The Data Release Number (DRN), a four digit number on the Student Aid Report, is important to take note of. This number can be used when a student calls to make changes or to have the FAFSA sent to additional schools. Knowing the DRN can make it easier to submit corrections and updates.

For students who fill out an online FAFSA, the Student Aid Report will be available online, and changes can be submitted over the Internet as well. This option is much faster than filing a paper document, and it can ensure that all of a student's materials are in by the financial aid deadline. Because financial aid is awarded on a first come, first serve basis, students should take every advantage to get in ahead of other applicants.

Need-based scholarships may be available to single mothers.
Need-based scholarships may be available to single mothers.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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