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8 things to do after completing your FAFSA®

Published June 24, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Congrats — you just submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) — so, now what? With one of the major steps of your college financial aid planning roadmap complete (remember, filling out the FAFSA® is the first step towards receiving federal financial aid), here are eight steps you should consider taking as you prepare to pay for college.

    1. Confirm your FAFSA® was processed

    After submitting your FAFSA®, the most important next step is to confirm the application was submitted correctly. Forms submitted electronically will generally be processed within one to three days and FAFSA® forms that are mailed in will generally be processed within three weeks.

    Starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA®, any contributors on your FAFSA®  must complete their section of the form separately and answer questions that are relevant to them. When submitting your FAFSA®, make sure the FAFSA® is completed, signed and submitted by all your contributors in order for it to be processed.

    Once the form is processed, your information will automatically be sent to the schools you listed on the application. The financial aid office at each school that accepts you will use this information to determine how much financial aid to award you (if any). This is why it’s important to list all the schools you're applying to on your FAFSA®.

    2. Look out for your FAFSA® Submission Summary

    The first thing you’ll receive after successfully submitting your FAFSA® is your FAFSA® Submission Summary. Your summary will provide basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid and general information about your FAFSA®. Previously this was known as the Student Aid Report (SAR), however, beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA®, the FAFSA® Submission Summary replaced the SAR. If you provided a valid email address on your FAFSA®, and once your form has been processed, you’ll receive an email that your FAFSA® Submission Summary is available and instructions for how to access it on

    3. Review your Student Aid Index (SAI)

    An essential aspect of the FAFSA® Submission Summary is the SAI. This number helps schools determine how much federal student aid and other types of aid to award to students, if any. 

    Your SAI is calculated using several factors such as your and, if applicable, your parent or spouse’s income, assets, and benefits (like unemployment).

    Your SAI number will help colleges understand how much financial aid you may need for college. Your financial need amount is produced by subtracting your SAI from the cost of attendance (COA) for a college and other financial assistance you may receive. Cost of attendance typically includes tuition, fees, and room and board.

    The equation to calculate a student’s financial need generally looks like this:

    COA – SAI – Other Financial Assistance = Eligibility For Need-Based Financial Aid

    4. Study your financial aid history

    Look to your FAFSA® Submission Summary, which has your financial aid history, to review any loans you've already taken out. This info will allow you to calculate how much money you’re borrowing and how much money you’ll owe. Keep all this information readily available to ensure you can meet your financial obligations upon graduation.

    5. Confirm that the information on your FAFSA® and FAFSA® Submission Summary is correct

    Good news — you may be able to edit your FAFSA® after you submit it. If you see a mistake, try to fix it immediately. If you can access your electronic FAFSA® form, log in with your FSA ID and click “Make FAFSA® Corrections” to update certain mistakes or add new information. You can find more information on how to make changes to your FAFSA® if needed on

    6. Confirm schools have received your info

    Your FAFSA® information will automatically be sent to every school listed on your application. Triple check to confirm your chosen schools have received your information. Different schools have different deadlines, so check in with each to make sure you meet their due dates and to see if they need extra information or if they have any additional requirements for those applying for financial aid.

    7. Apply for scholarships

    FAFSA® is the first step to receiving some types of financial aid, but it’s not the only option. If you want to close the federal aid gap or supplement your financial aid needs, start applying for scholarships. There's no limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for, so look out for opportunities that may be available to you. Reach out to your college or university and do a comprehensive online search. Remember to keep track of the due dates for the scholarships you're interested in.

    8. Appeal your aid if you need to

    After you’ve received a financial aid package from each school you listed on your FAFSA®, you might feel like you need to appeal your aid. An aid appeal is a letter you write to your school asking for more aid based on merit, additional aid offers, loss of income, or other changes in your financial circumstances. If some schools offer more aid than others, you may want to think about using this as support for your appeal.

    Final thoughts

    While filing the FAFSA® is an important first step towards obtaining federal financial aid, there may be further steps to take. Know what they are, be prepared, and stay organized during the process.

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