How Long Does it Take for FAFSA to Process? : Here’s What Happens After You File the FAFSA

I filled out my FAFSA, now what?

Congratulations! You’ve completed your Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which means you’re one giant step closer to getting some funds for college. You’re probably wondering, “How long does it take for FAFSA to process?”, and “What should I do in the meantime?”.

Before those FAFSA funds can reach your school of choice, however, there are a few more steps to take. This article will help you navigate those steps, so you can receive the right amount of money in the right place at the right time.

Overview of Your Next Steps:


  • Check the status of your FAFSA.
  • Complete additional financial forms, if needed.


  • Review your FAFSA Submission Summary, formally known as Student Aid Report (or SAR) for applications prior to 2024.


  • Correct/update information, as needed.
  • Follow the verification process if you’re notified it’s required.


  • Renew your FAFSA for every year of college.

How To Check Your Financial Aid Status

None of your “next steps” can happen until the first hurdle is cleared, which is successfully submitting your completed application. We recommend double-checking the status of your FAFSA to make sure it went through without issue.

Keep in mind that if you mailed your application, it can take approximately 7 to 10 days for it to process. If you completed your application online, it should process in a few days.

How to view your FAFSA after submitting:

  • Option 1: Log in to
  • Option 2: Contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center directly.

If your FAFSA form is still being processed, we recommend waiting a few days before you check the status again.

Completing Additional Forms

Your state or one of the colleges where you’re applying might require additional scholarship, grant, or financial aid forms.

You might also be asked to complete another standardized form called the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. Deadlines for this form are set by the individual schools that participate.

To make sure you’re submitting all of the information required, contact each school’s financial aid office directly with any questions.

My FAFSA is processed, now what?

Information Review and Timing

So, exactly how long does it take for FAFSA to process? Typically, it will take between 3-5 days. Then, once your FAFSA form is successfully processed, you’ll receive your FAFSA Submission Summary, formally known as Student Aid Report (SAR). Please note that your FAFSA Submission Summary differs from a Financial Aid Award Letter, which is mailed to you directly from individual colleges.

Financial Aid Award Letters contain school-specific information about how your federal aid eligibility compares with the cost of attendance (COA) and other forms of aid that might be available at that particular school.

Helpful Resources About Financial Aid Award Letters:
8 Things You Should Know About Financial Aid Award Letters
Understanding and Comparing Financial Aid Letters

When will I get my FAFSA Submission Summary and financial aid award letters?

When it comes to Financial Aid Award Letters, the timing varies by school. When it comes to your FAFSA Submission Summary, you can expect it to arrive by email within about a week, after your FAFSA form has been processed. If you did not provide an email address, your FAFSA Submission Summary will arrive by mail 7 to 10 days after processing.

Reviewing Your FAFSA Submission Summary

Before the simplification of the FAFSA, your SAR contained information that you provided on your FAFSA form. SAR is now known as the FAFSA Submission Summary, if there are no corrections or additional details to provide, your FAFSA Submission Summary will contain your Student Aid Index (SAI), a number that helps determine your eligibility for federal student aid. The report also includes the list of schools where you’re applying. The FAFSA Submission Summary is not an aid offer.

All of this information should be reviewed carefully, as follows:

Reviewing Your Student Aid Index (SAI)

Before the changes of FAFSA, there was an important number called expected family contribution, or EFC. This number is just as it sounds — the amount your family is expected to contribute toward your college education. Beginning in 2024, this number will now be replaced with SAI- or the Student Aid Report. The SAI is an “eligibility index number that your college’s or career school’s financial aid office uses to determine how much federal student aid you would receive if you attend the school.” (Information taken from It is not the exact amount of money your family will be paying, but a figure that represents your family’s financial strength, which is calculated by a formula, then used to determine your financial aid eligibility. If you have a lower SAI number, this indicates a higher financial need.

Details you submitted on your FAFSA that determine your SAI or formally known as EFC include taxed and untaxed income, additional assets and benefits. The SAI formula reduces the number of items considered in the income component of the formula. For more information on the SAI and how it is determined, please visit

Your financial need for each separate school is determined by the individual school using your SAI to award financial aid. Make sure you’re information is accurate especially if your family’s financial circumstances changed within the year.

Reviewing Your Schools

Make sure the schools listed on your FAFSA Submission Summary are the ones where you’re applying. If you’ve decided not to apply to a certain school or you want to add some schools, you’ll be able to fix that.

Remember that some schools have similar names or multiple campuses, and this can affect the cost of attendance or confuse your approval process if your form goes to the wrong place.

Carefully selecting the proper Federal School Code prevents this error.

Can I make FAFSA corrections?

Absolutely. Mistakes happen, school choices change, and financial circumstances can shift.

You can make corrections to your FAFSA after the deadline as follows:

  • Change your contact information
  • Adjust your financial circumstances
  • Add/remove a school

For details on how to do so, please visit:

Keeping the government accurately informed will go a long way toward making sure you receive your FAFSA money when and where you need it.

What is FAFSA verification?

Verification is a process schools use to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate. Being selected for verification does not necessarily mean you’ve done something wrong. Some schools select students randomly while others require verification for all applicants.

If you’ve been selected to provide verification, you’ll be informed via your FAFSA Submission Summary or from a school directly. If you’re unclear about anything in the request — specific materials or deadlines — contact the school for clarification.

Apply For Aid Each Year

You’ll need to repeat the FAFSA process for every year of college that requires financial aid. The good news is that once you’re past your first FAFSA, you can complete a Renewal FAFSA, which already has some of your information filled in.

That said, since your financial circumstances can differ from year to year and affect your financial aid eligibility, it’s vital to review and double-check for accuracy at each step, each year.

By the time you graduate, you’ll be a pro!

Now that you’ve answered the question: “How long does it take for FAFSA to process?”, you can take new steps toward preparing for college. Get started with College Ave today.

To bridge the gap between finances, consider taking out a private student loan.

Additional resources:
What’s FAFSA and why is it important?
How to Apply for the FAFSA


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