Student Aid Report

The Importance of the Student Aid Report


A full set of information is critical to almost any important decision. No one buys a house, or a car without taking the time to look at the “complete picture”. This also applies to organizations such as banks, businesses and colleges or universities. A bank does not issue a loan without insuring credit worthiness, an employer doesn’t hire someone without making certain they are qualified, and colleges do not accept students without proper academic ability.

When a student, and their family, begins to explore their options for funding a child’s education they must have a “complete picture” of their own financial status as well as what will be required of them financially throughout the years of college education.

Traditionally most families are unable to completely pay for a college education “up front” or “out of pocket”. Instead they must seek financial aid, loans and other forms of support.

The Federal government makes many programs available for students and their families to find some assistance with college expenses. Most of these programs require the completion of a standard application, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as the FAFSA.

Once a student and his or her parents have completed and submitted their FAFSA, they will then receive a document known as their Student Aid Report, the SAR. This contains a great deal of important information.

For example, if a student has all ready been accepted to a college or university the SAR may have all ready figured the total amount of expense the family will have to handle for that academic year.

The SAR will also indicate what the Expected Family Contribution should be; the EFC is the realistic amount a family should be able to pay “out of pocket” for that year’s expenses.

This means that a family who has completed their annual FAFSA will have a true picture of what they should and should not be able to handle financially for that student’s school year, and it will also direct the family to the next step. Either a SAR will explain the Federal grants a family can seek, or it will indicate that income is too high for a grant, which would then mean a Federal Student Loan product.

Most SARs that indicate a family has exceptional financial need will direct them to seek out a Federal Pell Grant. This will effectively open the door to additional Federal funding through such programs as the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the FSEOG or the Academic Competitiveness Grant, the ACG.