Part: 2 - - The application process for financial aid
SectionTitle: Reviewing the Student Aid Report
Reviewing the Student Aid Report
The student receives a SAR or SAR Information Acknowledgement
within four weeks of filing an application. (The student's school may
receive this information sooner on an ISIR if the student has
authorized release of the information.) The SAR or SAR Information
Acknowledgement contains the student's EFC and any comments
about the student's application information.
The SAR comes in two parts, with each part serving a different
purpose; if a student has applied through EDE, however, the SAR
comes in one part as a SAR Information Acknowledgement. A
student should follow the instructions on the SAR that explain
whether the form is to be submitted to the school(s) the student is
planning to attend. The student does not need to take the SAR to a
school he or she listed that participates in EDE, since these schools
already will have received the student's EFC and application
information electronically from the CPS. These schools may award
aid based on this data without receiving the printed SAR from the
student. To pay a Federal Pell Grant to a student, the school must
have either a valid ISIR or valid SAR for that student. To pay other
federal student aid, the institution must have either an ISIR or SAR
(or SAR Information Acknowledgement) with an official EFC.
To request a duplicate SAR, the student should call the Federal
Student Aid Information Center at 1-319-337-5665.
This is a toll call. The student must provide his or her name, SSN,
and date of birth. As noted on page 38 under "Adding a School," a
student may call this number also to request changes in the student's
address or in the schools (institution codes) to which the SAR is to be
sent. The student will need to provide the Personal Identification
Number (PIN) from the SAR.
The student must review the SAR carefully for errors before
submitting the SAR to the financial aid office. If the SAR contains
incorrect information or certain items that need to be updated, the
student may have to make changes. We discuss these changes in the
section titled "Making Changes."
For additional information on the Student Aid Report, please refer to
A Guide to 1997-98 SARs and ISIRs.
Part 1 - Information Summary
Part 1 of the SAR is the Information Summary. This part serves as an
eligibility letter to the student and school. The
EFC is printed on the front (at the upper right) along with an
explanation of the calculation and instructions for the student. A
summary of the student's information is printed on the back of Part 1.
Part 1 has a separate section titled "FAA Information." This space is
used to provide a coded summary of information about the
application and to provide the EFC. Additional information, such as
the results of data matches, is also provided in this section.
Changes to the "FAA Information" section are explained in A Guide
to 1997-98 SARs and ISIRs.
A SAR Information Acknowledgement comprises Part 1 only, and
allows the student to review the processed information and results.
This one-part SAR Information Acknowledgement is a payable
eligibility document just like a two-part SAR. A student may take it
to another institution and receive SFA funds.
Please note that the SAR Information Acknowledgement may not be
used to submit corrected data. If corrections are needed, they must be
made through EDE, or a duplicate SAR can be requested and used
for a paper correction.
Institutions that transmit applications or corrections to the CPS
electronically are no longer required to provide printed copies of
ISIRs to these students for review. (However, note that students are
required to submit signed documentation to confirm the necessary
corrections. See page 37.)
Part 1 Information on NSLDS
Part 1 also reports National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS)
information on the student. This NSLDS Financial Aid History (on
both the SAR and the ISIR) has been revised to provide student
financial aid history. (It therefore provides most of the information
required to replace financial aid transcripts.) The page will provide
information on overpayments and defaulted loans, and also on a
student's most recent loans and aggregate loan amounts for all
applicable loan programs. The NSLDS page will report data only as
reported to that system; sometimes the data is not completely current
due to a lag of time in reporting data to NSLDS. Also, the NSLDS
page is produced only for students whose financial aid information is
found in the database, not for every SAR or ISIR. Dear Colleague
Letter GEN-96-13 (July 1996) provides information on NSLDS
Financial Aid History data and issues pertaining to use of the data.
Action Letter 5 (GEN-96-22) describes "changes and enhancements
to the 1997-98 application processing system." For example, new
flags have been added to improve the reporting of NSLDS match
results and changes to NSLDS data: NSLDS Results; NSLDS
Transaction Number; Transaction Receipt Date; and Reprocessing
The NSLDS Results Flag will show the result of the match for the
student's reported Social Security Number. For example, a value of
"1" means that the reported SSN was matched and confirmed with
the NSLDS, and that NSLDS data were sent to the CPS and will
appear on the SAR and ISIR. A value of "2" means that the student's
SSN was found in the NSLDS but the match could not be confirmed
using either the name or date of birth. This result will generate
comment code #138, informing the student and school that the
problem must be resolved before federal student financial aid can be
The NSLDS Transaction Number is updated on the student's SAR or
ISIR each time the NSLDS data changes. For example, the student
has 3 SAR transactions. On the first SAR transaction, the NSLDS
transaction code is "1" since this is the first time that the information
is sent through the matches and the NSLDS data is accurate as of the
first transaction. If the student makes a correction on the SAR and
mails it in, the record will be sent back through the NSLDS match to
see if there is a change. If there is no change to the NSLDS data, the
NSLDS transaction number remains at number "1." So, even though
a school has SAR number 2, the school will know that the NSLDS
data is the same as it was on the first SAR.
If the SAR is mailed in for a third transaction, it will be sent again
through the data match. If the NSLDS data has changed, the NSLDS
transaction number will also change. In this example, the new
NSLDS transaction number will be "3."
The flag for "Transaction Receipt Date" will display the date that the
input for each transaction is received by a FAFSA processor or the
CPS, and it will also display whether that input is paper or electronic,
a subsequent application, or a correction. This date will appear in
addition to the "Application Receipt Date," which displays the date
that the original (or first) application was received. The Transaction
Receipt Date will change for each transaction, but the Application
Receipt Date will remain constant.
The flag for "Reprocessing Code" is a numeric code that will be used
to provide more specific information about system-generated
records. If a subset of student records requires reprocessing--for
example, there are changes in the formula or maximum EFC, or
problems with NSLDS data for certain students, the Reprocessing
Reason Code will appear on the reprocessed records along with the
System Generated (Sys Gen) = Z code that identifies a reprocessed
batch. This code will be numeric and will be assigned and
incremented with each reprocessing. The definition for a code will be
available from Customer Service and will be announced on the
Student Financial Assistance Bulletin Board Service (SFA BBS).
Part 2 - Information Review Form/Information Request Form
As of 1997-98, Part 2 of the SAR will be on five pages, with codes
and instructions listed on the fifth page. Part 2 has been redesigned
with special emphasis on adapting it for imaging and scanning
technology by using ovals and enlarging response fields, similar to
the FAFSA and the now redesigned and streamlined Renewal
Application. (The SAR Information Acknowledgment and Part 1 of
the SAR will remain unchanged.) Please note that Part 2 of the SAR
by itself does not serve as an eligibility document; as mentioned
previously, only Part 1 of the SAR--the Information Summary--
serves as an eligibility letter to the student and school.
The student uses the "Information Review Form" to make
corrections, if necessary, and to update certain items if they have
been changed since the FAFSA was completed and submitted. Part 2
lists the student's information under the "You told us" column, with
space, if needed, for the student to correct the information under the
column headed "Write in only new or corrected information." Data
elements that have been questioned by the CPS logic are highlighted
in bold type in Part 2. Parental data fields are printed on all SARs.
These fields are shaded to distinguish parental data from the student's
data. If the student does not provide parental data, the parental data
fields are blank. If the student provides parental data on the original
application, the data will be on the SAR and ISIR even if the student
is independent, and the information will be carried forward on all
The "Information Request Form," rather than the Review Form, is
sent when information provided by the student was incomplete or
inconsistent and an EFC could not be calculated. In this situation, the
student will receive a four-page SAR (a "reject" SAR) with the
Information Request Form as Part 2. The student must correct or
verify all information identified by an arrow printed in each
questioned field on the SAR. Beginning in 1997-98, the student must
write a new answer in the boxes or ovals that appear to the right of
the arrow to make a correction. To verify that the previous answer
(the answer originally provided by the student) is correct, the student
must rewrite the same answer in the answer space provided for each
questioned data element. (Note that the new design does not include
check-off boxes to verify answers.)
The Information Request Form must be completed correctly and
returned to the FAFSA processor for the student to receive federal
student aid. Corrections to the SAR information may also be made
electronically through the EDE system.
Both the Information Review Form and the Information Request
Form contain helpful hints on reviewing the SAR and a "For Your
Information" section. The "For Your Information" section tells the
student the approximate time needed to review and complete the
SAR, informs the student that, if he or she is convicted of drug
distribution or possession, his or her eligibility for Title IV student
financial aid is subject to suspension or termination, and instructs the
student what to do if he or she has special circumstances.
Types of Student Aid Reports
There are several different types of SARs depending on whether the
student is eligible or ineligible for a Federal Pell Grant and whether
the student's information is consistent.
Pell-eligible -- The SAR will indicate that the EFC falls
beneath the cutoff for Pell eligibility. The student must still review
the SAR and make any necessary corrections on Part 2 of the SAR or through EDE.
Pell-ineligible -- The EFC exceeds the Pell eligibility cutoff or
the student reported that he or she had a bachelor's degree, was a
graduate/professional student, or both. In this case, the EFC can still
be used to determine the student's eligibility for other aid.
If corrections are necessary, they can be made by using Part 2 of the
SAR or by using EDE. Please refer to "Mastering the School Use
Only" box later in this part for more information on making
corrections and on professional judgment adjustments.
Rejected -- No EFC was calculated, because of missing, incorrect,
or questionable information. The student must correct the
information using Part 2 of that SAR, as instructed.
If an application is signed outside of the processing time frame (if it
is signed before January 1, 1997 or received after June 30, 1998), it
will be returned unprocessed with a letter of explanation.
The effectiveness of the federal student financial aid programs
depends, in large part, on the accuracy of the data
reported by students. It directly affects the eligibility of
millions of applicants for these programs. Because of this, schools
must verify information provided by students selected by the CPS,
following the procedures established by regulations. The CPS prints
an asterisk next to the EFC on the SAR to identify students who have
been selected (by the CPS) for verification. (A code is also provided
on the ISIR.) You must check the information the student reported
on the FAFSA, usually by requesting a copy of the signed tax returns
filed by the student and, if applicable, the student's parent(s) or
spouse. Many schools conduct their own form of verification,
selecting other applications for verification in addition to those
selected by the CPS. Please refer to The Verification Guide 1997-98
for more information on this process.