What does the Federal Government do with the FAFSA?
Once the FAFSA application data has been processed, the results will be sent out via a Student Aid Report (SAR) to the student, the Universities listed on the FAFSA, and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). The purpose of financial aid is to fill the “gap” between the Cost of Attendance and what students and their families can contribute from income, savings and assets to pay for their education. The difference between the cost and that contribution is called financial need. To ensure fairness, all postsecondary institutions across the country use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to gather the student and family financial information in order to determine a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This contribution is the amount a student and his or her family are expected to pay toward the student's cost of attendance as calculated by a Congressionally-mandated formula. The student, the student’s family, and taxpayers (through financial aid) share responsibility for paying for higher education.
How much financial aid can I expect to receive, and how much will I have to pay for college?
There is no easy answer to this question because there are many factors (e.g., household size, number of family members in college, income, and certain assets) that are considered in determining your expected family contribution and thus your eligibility for financial aid. Each family situation is unique. It is recommended that every student apply for financial aid at least once to have his/her eligibility reviewed. Remember also that, in general, any accepted student is eligible for some type of financial assistance (e.g., a Federal Direct Loan), regardless of his/her calculated financial need.