Tell me what I need to know about the SAR.

What’s a SAR?

Your Student Aid Report (SAR) will be sent to you either by mail or email within two weeks after submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you provided an email address on your FAFSA, you’ll receive instructions on how to access your SAR online. If there’s not a working email address available, a signature is missing or your Social Security Number doesn’t match your record at the Social Security Administration, you’ll receive either a SAR or a SAR Acknowledgement through the mail. All students with an FSA ID can view or print their SARs after logging in at FAFSA.gov.

What do I need to do after I receive my SAR?

Read the first page carefully. If you need to supply more information to your financial aid office, it will give you further instructions.

  1. Look for the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on the first page in the upper right corner. Your financial aid office needs the EFC to determine how much aid you may be able to receive.
  2. Review the entire SAR for mistakes. If you find anything that needs to be corrected, log in to your FAFSA at FAFSA.gov. You can mail a paper copy of the SAR showing your corrections, but this is where an online FAFSA can really pay off; making corrections through the mail can take weeks!
  3. Find the Data Release Number (DRN). It will be listed below the EFC. You’ll need the DRN if you choose to allow your college to change certain information on your FAFSA. Speak to someone your school’s Financial Aid office if there will be a significant change in your income or your parents’ income during the current year.
  4. The data from your SAR will also be sent to each college that you listed in the School Code section of your FAFSA. If you’re in a time crunch, you can call the financial aid office at your school of choice to verify that they’ve received your information.

Don’t ignore your SAR! It’s an important document that will keep you informed throughout the financial aid process.

FAFSA and the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

If you’re working on your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application and plan to use the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) to download your 2015 income tax figures, you may be out of luck. Currently this option, known as the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), is unavailable. The IRS and the U.S. Department of Education confirmed that the federal government purposefully shut off the IRS DRT amid security concerns and stated that “the online data tool will be unavailable for several weeks.”

If you’re not familiar with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, it allows students and parents completing the FAFSA to link directly to the IRS and electronically download tax figures into the FAFSA from their tax return. This process allows families a much faster and easier way to enter this information on their financial aid application.

You shouldn’t wait to complete your FAFSA because of the IRS glitch. Instead, you can manually enter your tax information directly into the FAFSA and submit it for processing. You aren’t too late to apply for financial aid if you’re just now completing the FAFSA, but remember that sending it in as soon after the annual start date of Oct. 1 is the best option.

It’s important to note that, at this time, the IRS has not suggested that the Data Retrieval Tool has been attacked or that their systems have been affected. Please follow StartWithFAFSA.org for updates to this current issue with the IRS DRT. We’ll post as soon as the problem has been resolved.