How Long Does FAFSA Take to Process? The Complete Guide.

how long does fafsa take to process
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The question; “How Long Does FAFSA Take to Process?” has been on the tongue of every student looking for financial aid and as such, we have been able to provide an answer to it in this article.

According to the United States Department of Education, nearly 20 million people apply for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year. Due to the large number of applicants, it might take a long time for FASFA to process.

As a result, applicants get worried with the mixed feeling of whether they will get a positive answer or not. The good news is that you can make your processing faster and easier. You can achieve this through adequate knowledge of how FAFSA processing works.

Before we go into details, let’s briefly discuss what FAFSA is.

What is FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form you fill to gain access to government financial aid. This financial aid is for undergraduate or aspiring college students that do not have the financial capacity to run their academic programs.

Unlike the CSS profile controlled and required by private colleges before distributing substantial institutional funding, FAFSA is quite different and has a more flexible means of application.

How Long Does FAFSA Take to Process?

There are different ways to apply for FAFSA. It makes it impossible to ascertain the exact period FAFSA takes. For instance, if you sign up online using your FSA identity number, you will have to wait for a maximum of 7 days before you receive a link to your Student Aid Report (SAR).

Your SAR contains a comprehensive and detailed summary of your eligibility to FAFSA. This means that without this report, you won’t have the privilege to know whether you are eligible for government financial aid or the type of financial aid you’re eligible for.

If you applied using your FSA ID without an email address, you might have to wait for about 10 days before receiving your SAR. The reason is that your SAR may take a long time through the mail than an email.

Moreover, you might have to wait for about 2 weeks for your aid report to be ready if you registered with an email address without your FSA ID. The paper form is another registration method that allows you to participate in the federal government.

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If you decide to apply for the financial service aid using “paper form”, ensure you provide your email address or FSA ID; preferably both. The absence of FSA ID or email address will delay your SAR for about 21 days or more.

Note that common errors such as invalid email addresses, wrong FSA ID, etc, will cause delayed FAFSA processing.

What is SAR and why is it important?

The Student Aid Report (SAR) is the document that provides a summary of the information about your eligibility for financial aid. It also gives you the privilege to view the information you submitted on your FAFSA and allows you to edit them if you note any error.

Information you will find on your SAR

Expected Family Contribution Score.

This is the primary FAFSA number you need to determine the percentage of your financial aids you are guaranteed. It is also a detailed explanation of the level of financial commitment the government expects from you and your parents towards your educational expenses.

Data Number.

The Federal student aid (FSA) provides this number immediately after your application. This number will enable the schools you selected to access your FAFSA online.

Eligibility Estimate.

This is the total estimation of the grants and loans you may be eligible for. The eligibility estimate might change, meaning you might have a better opportunity to more grants or loans in the future. However, the total number of the current amount of funds you are qualified to access will be clearly stated in your SAR.

Authentication Alert.

This is a quick message you receive in your SAR that informs you whether you have been selected or not.

How does FAFSA work?

It is essential to clarify that FAFSA is not a loan or free money. It is an application that gives you an insight into the financial opportunities you are eligible to benefit from. While some of these financial service aids are free, you acquire some through work or loans.

FAFSA is a program that enables the U.S department of education to determine eligible students based on each candidate’s financial capacity. It is, therefore, essential that you complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before you can be eligible for either need-based or non-need-based financial aids.

Note: You are only allowed to select 10 schools on your FAFSA application.

How long does it take to fill out FAFSA?

It depends on the tool you use and how serious you are with the application process. You are to have forehand knowledge of the basic requirements of FAFSA before the application form is out. It will help you fill out FAFSA within 4-50 minutes else, you might spend over one hour to register if you are not familiar with the process before the registration date.

Types of Financial Aids you can benefit from.

Need-based Financial Aid.

This type of financial aid is available for students with low-income rate and whose family lacks the financial capacity to support their college education. Some examples of this kind of financial aids are

  1. Federal Pell Grant: This grant is basically for undergraduate students with exceptional financial needs. There is a specific amount awarded as the Pell grant every year to help students with their school fees. In addition, some teachers with certification programs can also receive this grant.
  2. Direct subsidized loan: This federal student aid is only available for undergraduates. You are to pay back your subsidized loan while in school or within the space of six months after graduating. One of the advantages of this loan over a private loan is that it does not require an interest rate on loans.
  3. Federal supplementary educational grant: The supplementary grant is only for students with exceptional educational needs.  Students eligible for this grant are privileged to receive amounts between $100 to $4000 every year for free.
  4. Federal work-study: This is one of the best federal service aid. Instead of requesting a loan, the government provides part-time jobs for eligible undergraduates or graduate to work and earn to meet their financial needs.

The financial service aid is based on merit. You, therefore, have to be cautious while providing every necessary information on your FAFSA form. It is essential to note that the kind of information you provide on your FAFSA will determine whether you will be eligible for “need-based financial aid” or not.  Moreover, the earlier you submit your FAFSA the better privilege you stand to enjoy.

Non-need based Financial Aid.

Non-need based financial aid is determined by evaluating the student or family’s expected contribution. After filling the FAFSA form, your financial needs will be analyzed based on your financial capacity. If your data reveals that you are over 50% capable of financing your educational needs, you will be issued non-need based financial aid. Some of the types of non-based financial aids are:

  1. Federal Direct Stafford loans: This type of loan is one of the most affordable borrowing options for a student. It has friendly terms and returning policy. One of the favorable terms is that your total income or credit history does not affect your eligibility for this loan. However, one of the basic requirements is that you must be enrolled in a school that participates directly in the loan program. Once you fill out your FAFSA form, the schools you applied to will receive a notification to decide on the financial aid you are eligible to. Some of the factors that are considered for you to be eligible are your financial need, cost of schooling, and educational program (whether as an undergraduate or graduate).
  2. Graduate Plus loan: This loan is sponsored by the U.S Department of Education to students that want to further their education beyond the college level. This loan only covers tuition fees and not other financial expenses. One of the basic terms of the Graduate Plus loan is that you will have to pay a fixed interest of 4.248% on the amount borrowed. However, the interest rate might vary under certain conditions like the first loan received. Similar to a direct Stafford loan, your total income or credit history does not disqualify you from benefiting from this loan.
  3. Parent plus loan: This loan is handled by the U.S Department of Education to parents that seek monetary assistance to finance their children’s undergraduate academic expenses. Unlike private loans that are bounded with rigid terms and conditions, Parent plus loan has friendly policies and low-interest rates. To be eligible for this loan, you must be a U.S citizen. You also have to be the biological, adoptive, or registered parent of such a child. Moreover, your child must have spent half-time in college or university you listed on your child’s FAFSA form. However, you might miss this opportunity if you have a huge debt to settle; unless you get someone without any standing credit record to be your endorser.

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How long does FAFSA take?

It depends on how well you pay attention to updates from the department in charge of financial aid. Immediately you process your FAFSA and receive your SAR, all the colleges you listed on your FAFSA application form will receive a message notifying your proposal.

These schools will then decide your financial aid eligibility before granting you a financial package. It may take a while, so you should call the schools you applied to for an update. Then you will know whether to prepare a financial award package, or the school may decide to take full responsibility for that.

After one of the schools you choose gives you your award package, you will receive your loan or grant in cash within 10 days before the resumption date.

How to avoid errors while applying for FAFSA.

It is easy to fill out FAFSA; however, you are still likely to make some mistakes. To prevent this, you can use a helpful free tool like “FAFSA demonstration site” to practice how to fill FAFSA form. This demo site is usually updated before the registration date to guide applicants against making errors.

Moreover, it is safer to use your FSA identity number to start your FAFSA. Instead of inputting your name, date of birth, and security number, use your FSA ID to generate your information. This method will help to reduce the chance of error entry. You should also ensure you verify that you’re using your FSA ID not your parent’s.

Timing for FAFSA.

Knowing the right timing to fill out FAFSA is very important. It will determine your chances of being selected. Research shows that students who correctly fill out FAFSA between the first and third months have better access to grants and scholarships than those who applied late.

The 2022–23 FAFSA form will be available starting from the 1st of Oct, 2021. All intending applicants are advised to know how to fill out the FAFSA form before the registration date.

Conclusion.

The cost of running for colleges and universities is increasing which can increase illiteracy. However, the good news is that you can avoid being a dropout by applying for financial service aid. During your application, you should take every tip discussed in this article as a guideline. It will help you to quicken your financial aid process.

SIDENOTE: You should ensure you carefully review your Student Aid Report (SAR) to check for incorrect entries and correct them by inputting the right information on the blank space of your SAR. Always remember to send the updated report back through a mail provided by the FSA. Failure to do so means the correction won’t have an effect on your form.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What is FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form you fill to gain access to government financial aid. This financial aid is for undergraduate or aspiring college students that do not have the financial capacity to run their academic programs.

How long does it take for FAFSA to be approved?

It depends on the chosen route of application.
It takes 2 to 5 days if you submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online using FAFSA on the Web and 7 to 10 days if you submitted a paper FAFSA,

How do I know if my FAFSA was approved?

Your FAFSA status can be found on the “My FAFSA” page, which displays immediately after you log in if you have already started or completed a FAFSA form. However, to check on the status of financial aid being disbursed to you or your account, check with the financial aid office at your college or career school.

How long does it take for FAFSA to process?

It takes 10 days if you applied using your FSA ID without an email address. The reason is that your SAR may take a long time through the mail than an email. Moreover, you might have to wait for about 2 weeks for your aid report to be ready if you registered with an email address without your FSA ID.

Your SAR . This means that without this report, you won’t have the privilege to know whether you are eligible for government financial aid or the type of financial aid you’re eligible for.
ready if you registered with an email address without your FSA ID. The paper form is another registration method that allows you to participate in the federal government.

ready if you registered with an email address without your FSA ID. The paper form is another registration method that allows you to participate in the federal government.

How do i know if i am eligible for government financial aid?

You will know if you are eligible for government financial aid through your Student Aid Report as it contains a comprehensive and detailed summary of your eligibility to FAFSA. This means that without this report, you won’t have the privilege to know whether you are eligible for government financial aid or the type of financial aid you’re eligible for.

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