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How Long Does the FAFSA Take to Process?

December 04, 2018

How long your FAFSA takes to process will depend upon how it was submitted and the accuracy and clarity of the information provided. Many students submit their FAFSA forms online through the official FAFSA website. The  National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) strongly recommends submitting the forms online rather than submitting a paper version. One reason is that the online version uses “skip-logic” questioning, which means that only the questions that are applicable and necessary are asked of the student. The online version not only allows for much quicker processing, but also reduces the potential for errors and subsequent reprocessing.

Student Aid Report (SAR) Summary will be provided by the Office of Federal Student Aid  in 2-5 business days if the FAFSA was submitted online, using an online signature to process and if an email address was provided. In this case, the SAR will be provided via email. If the FAFSA was processed online but printed at the end to send in an actual signature page through the mail, then you can expect your SAR within two weeks, still arriving via email address provided. It will come through USPS if you did not provide an email address.

If you did not provide an email address when you completed your FAFSA online, then you will generally have to wait 7-10 business days for your SAR to arrive in the mail via USPS. If you submitted an entire FAFSA packet hard copy, you can expect to receive your SAR report in up to three weeks. One way that you can speed up the process is to actually take your time filling out the form in the beginning. This way you will minimize the possibility of making a mistake and having to edit, fix, or update with the correct information, which adds extra processing time to your FAFSA application.

Your SAR will also be sent to the schools you listed while filling out your FAFSA. Once you have been accepted to a school on that list, that school’s financial aid office will begin to process your financial aid package. Timing of financial aid award letters can vary and are generally sent within three days to three weeks of being accepted to a school.  

How long does FAFSA take to process?


Sent FAFSA: Included Email Address:  Did Not Include Email Address:
Online 2-5 business days 7-10 business days (and up to 2 weeks if signature page was sent in separately).
By Mail 7-10 business days   Up to 2 weeks