What To Do After You Submit the FAFSA

mother and daughter on laptop

Manuel Tauber-Romieri / EyeEm / Getty Images

Filling out and submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a critical step in getting financial aid and preparing for college. But it's just the first step. There are a number of things you'll need to do after that, including correcting any errors on the form, applying for other aid offered by your state or college, and evaluating financial aid offers as they come in.

Learn more about what happens after you submit the FAFSA and what more you can do to prepare financially for college.

Key Takeaways

  • After you submit your FAFSA, you should check your confirmation page for estimates of the federal financial aid you'll receive.
  • Contact each school you're applying to and ask what else you need to do to apply for financial aid from the school or your state.
  • Once you receive your Student Aid Report, update any information that's changed or was reported in error.
  • Evaluate financial aid offers that come in from the schools you've applied to and figure out the cost of attending each.

Review Your Confirmation Page

As soon as you submit your FAFSA online, you'll see a confirmation page showing that your application has been received. The page will include estimates of the financial aid you might get from the schools you've listed on the form. Keep in mind that this is not a financial aid offer. That may come later from the individual schools you applied to, and will be calculated using other factors such as the cost of attendance.

The estimates also don't include any financial aid from your state or the college. But they're at least a starting place in figuring out how much federal student aid you might receive, and may help you plan while you await offers from individual schools.

Contact Schools About Individual Aid Requirements

Most colleges don't offer financial aid to everyone who listed them on their FAFSA. You'll need to contact the financial aid office of each school and ask about their requirements.

Your state or the colleges you apply to may have other financial aid forms you should fill out in order to be considered for grants or scholarships from sources other than the federal government. For example, you may need to fill out the CSS Profile, which is an application for nonfederal financial aid that's run by the College Board.


As with the FAFSA, applications open for the CSS Profile Oct. 1 for the following academic year.

Check with the financial aid office of each college you're applying to about how to apply for nonfederal financial aid. Each school may have different paperwork and deadlines.

Make Corrections or Updates to Your FAFSA If Needed

Processing your FAFSA usually takes about three days. Once that's done you should receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes the information you reported on the form. You'll receive this via email or by mail, depending on whether you supplied an email address in your application.

Look over the SAR, and if you see mistakes or information that has changed, you'll need to correct or update your FAFSA. To do this:

  • Log into fafsa.gov
  • Go to the "My FAFSA" page and choose "Make Corrections"
  • Create a save key
  • Change your information
  • Submit your changes

If you received a paper SAR, you can write the corrections in on that, then sign it and mail it to the address provided on the SAR.


You are required to update your FAFSA if there are any changes to your dependency status, and you may also want to change your contact information, update information about your financial status if it's changed, or change the list of schools you've included.

Evaluate Financial Aid Offers

Many colleges send out financial aid offers around the same time as they notify you you've been accepted. If you've been accepted to a college but haven't heard about financial aid, contact the school's financial aid office. You may also want to contact them if you receive an aid offer but it's not in line with what you were expecting. In either case, you should ask if they need more information from you.

Search for Scholarships

Although the school may offer you a scholarship, there are many other places to look for them. The search for scholarships should be an ongoing activity. They offer a tremendous way to lower out-of-pocket costs and can reduce the amount of money you will need to borrow. There are scholarships available for just about anything you can think of, but you need to do the work to find them.

Calculate College Costs and Choose a School

Once you have all of your financial aid awards in order and you've gotten an idea of other scholarships you might get, you can calculate what your out-of-pocket costs will be to attend each college selected. This is often the point where financial reality begins to set in, as families now have an actual number they need to confront.

This may be unsettling, as the amount may have to come from family savings or a student job. It might be time to have a serious “money talk” about how much money the family can afford to spend on college.

With all of this information, you can make a reasoned college choice. Financial aid may be a big determinant in which college you choose to attend, but you'll also want to consider other factors such as the school's academic record, reputation, location, offerings in areas of study you're interested in, and student life.

Survey Your Student Loan Situation

If student loans will be a part of your future, you need to start learning about them now. Study the differences between federal and private student loans, and do your research to make sure you are getting the best possible combination for your specific situation. Don't wait until the summer before the school year starts, as that may be too late to get the loan package that's in your best financial interests.

Start Preparing To Be a College Student

If the financial aid details are all in place, you can work on preparing to enter college or trade school. This is a good time to learn basic financial skills if you don't already know them. Talk with family members or read up to learn about credit and debt, and work out a college budget that you can all live by.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you add schools to the FAFSA after submitting?

Yes, you can add schools to your FAFSA after you've submitted it. You're only allowed to list 10 schools, so if you have hit that limit, you'll need to remove one of them before adding the other. You'll need to add that school's Federal School Code, which you can search for online as long as you've got the school's state and the school year you're interested in.

After you send in your FAFSA form, what will you receive back?

If you submitted your application online, you'll see a confirmation page acknowledging that your form has been received. Within a few days, you'll receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) showing the information you provided on your FAFSA. It will include your expected family contribution (EFC), a number that determines your eligibility for different kinds of student aid.

Offers of student aid will come later from the individual schools that you've listed on your form and been accepted to.

Updated by Yasmin Ghahremani
Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Federal Student Aid. "5 Things To Do After Filing Your FAFSA Form."

  2. Federal Student Aid. "If I Submitted a FAFSA Form, When Will I Receive Information About My Student Aid?"

  3. Federal Student Aid. "How To Correct or Update Your FAFSA Form."

Related Articles