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Part of Western Governors University

March 19, 2021

Online University Experience

How to Read a Student Aid Report

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Students who are interested in advancing their education to the next level often face a challenge in meeting the financial requirements of post-secondary education. But with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA), any student can apply to get monetary support for the next phase of their schooling. 

It’s a common misconception that online learning with universities such as WGU is more expensive than traditional schooling. This is largely due to for-profit confusion, leading students to ignore the affordability and cost savings that an online educational institution can offer. However, online schooling is a more affordable option for many students. Federal financial aid can turn your post-secondary education dreams into reality. Students can apply and enroll with complete knowledge of the financial output associated with their chosen degree program, and gain support through federal aid.

But unfortunately, many students don’t take advantage of federal aid because they think the application process takes too much time or they don’t have the information they need to access and complete the application. This can be a costly mistake for many, as students may miss the opportunity to get scholarships, grants, and other federal loans. While it may take a little time to fill out the application information, it’s well worth it. The good news is, you can start your FAFSA as early as you like.

After completing your FAFSA, you'll receive your personal Student Aid Report (SAR). We've compiled answers to some common questions about the SAR, so read on below for more information.

What Is My Student Aid Report?

Your Student Aid Report (or SAR) is a form that the U.S. Department of Education sends to you once you’ve successfully applied to the FAFSA. Think of it as a receipt for your application. However, it also shares information relating to student aid and what you may be eligible to receive. This will be the first indicator that you may be eligible for a Pell Grant. It is also an opportunity for you to check for errors on your application. Here’s an example of a SAR so you know what to expect.

When Will I Get My Student Aid Report?

Generally, you’ll get your SAR about two weeks after you submit your application. If you shared your email address, you’ll receive an email copy—or you can see it in your FAFSA account by logging in on the application website. Otherwise, it will be mailed to you.

What Will Be on My Student Aid Report?

Because WGU relies on your SAR to gauge how much financial aid you may be eligible for, you’ll want to make sure the information is correct. Your SAR will show:

Your application status, including whether or not you’ve completed your application and if the FAFSA needs more information.

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Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is the financial support that WGU subtracts from the total attendance cost so your aid may be calculated to make up the difference. Your EFC isn't an indication of how much your family must pay or should pay, the EFC simply reviews what help you could get from family that would impact your financial aid. Your EFC also typically does not prevent you from getting any aid, but is used to determine which kinds of federal aid you qualify for.


Your Data Release Number (DRN), so you can effectively edit the personal information on your application as needed.


Your eligibility for a Pell Grant, which is awarded to low-income students. If you’re not eligible for a Pell Grant, you may have other aid opportunities available to you.


Your FAFSA application answers.


Information on any outstanding federal loans you may have.


Verification notification, which may require you to send additional documents to support your application answers (including supplemental materials such as financial statements). If you are selected for verification, WGU will reach out to you with instructions on what to do.


What Is a Financial Aid Offer?

This is different from your SAR. The financial aid offer is the information that specifically outlines what kind of federal aid you can expect. It will include information on scholarships and federal loans. You’ll receive your financial aid offer closer to your start date.

How Can I Correct My Student Aid Report?

Did you spot a mistake in your SAR? Not to worry—you can correct it easily online. Use your FSA ID to log on to the FAFSA website, then click on “FAFSA Corrections” from the homepage. Then just correct the information that needs to be updated and submit it. You can also make corrections directly on your SAR and submit it by mail, but you’ll also have to update that information with WGU’s financial aid office.

What if I Don’t Qualify for Federal Aid?

If you currently don’t get enough federal aid or you don’t qualify for any financial aid. you may still have other options available to you. Consider exploring options such as:

  • Other scholarships or grants which can be from your school or from a private organization. These scholarships don’t require repayment like student loans.
  • Private student loans, which can have higher interest rates, but you can also borrow as much as you need to cover your school’s costs.
  • If you’re working while going to school, check if your employer has a tuition reimbursement program.
  • Additionally, if your financial situation has changed at all recently, you can contact Financial Services to get information on how to get help.

Post-secondary education can be costly, and sometimes the financial hurdles can appear to be insurmountable. But it’s not impossible. With a little effort and some extra information, you could be on the road to getting the financial aid you need to continue your education with WGU.

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