How Long Does It Take to Receive FAFSA Money?

VD November 11 2021

As a student preparing for college, finance can become quite an issue if you do not have enough funds to pay for the college tuition and cover other expenses. You might need to apply for scholarships, nonprofit grants, and loans. To get a hold of financial aid, filling a FAFSA form correctly can be beneficial.

But the question is how long does it take to receive FAFSA money? There can be a difference in time for students sending their forms and receiving scholarships and grants. If you are curious, read below to find out more about FAFSA application timelines.

We’ll fill you in about how long does it take to get financial aid from FAFSA, but first, let’s discuss what FAFSA can do for you. 

What is FAFSA financial aid? 

FAFSA is a Free Application For Federal Student Aid. It is a form that you either fill online or in a hard copy, submitting to the Department of Education (DOE). 

The application form requires you to mention your financial situation, like the amount of money your family can afford to give you, to determine the type of financial assistance and support you’d need to meet all the college expenses. 

You also mention the list of colleges and programs you want to apply to, so the DOE processes your information and sends the form to the colleges and universities of your interest.  The institutions access your form and provide you with their offers which you can then use to finance your education.


You Can Fill the FAFSA Form in 7 Steps

Every year, there are millions of students who rely on FAFSA for scholarships and financial aid. But most of them fail to do so correctly. Here’s how you can fill a FAFSA:

  1. You need to start by filling out the name, date of birth, and Social Security number of every family member applying for college through FAFSA. If they have already filled this form for themselves, ask them to submit the results to you so that you don't have to fill it again.
  2. The next step is getting hold of all documents that prove your income, assets, and other information you provide. This includes both of your parents' federal tax returns for the past two years, proof of citizenship if applicable, property taxes paid to the state, and employer records if someone in your family works.
  3. You need to make a list of ALL the colleges you want to apply to. The FAFSA charges a processing fee for each college you add, so make sure you have a list prepared beforehand to avoid paying unnecessary fees.
  4. The application requires basic personal details like address, parents’ marital status at the present time, and other basic information related to the students’ study plans. In this section, enter an estimate of how much money you think you can put toward college expenses – though this is only an estimate.
  5. The form asks for the information of anyone who financially supports you. This includes your grandparents, aunts, and uncles, or any other family members if they help you out with money even if it is not their primary responsibility.
  6. A section of the FAFSA requires details about savings and checking accounts belonging to you, your parents, and anyone else helping you pay college expenses. So make sure all accounts are listed properly.
  7. Last but not the least; list the expected amount of student aid (including scholarships, grants, and loans). You can easily receive this figure by using our FAFSA4caster, which will help you calculate how much financial assistance you qualify for before applying to college.

What Does FAFSA Money Cover?

There is a difference in the amount of money received by students depending on their financial situations and the colleges they plan to attend. Both determine how much aid you can get from FAFSA:

  • Grants (Non-Repayable Assistance):

These grants may not need to be repaid, though some do require repayment after graduating or dropping below half-time enrollment. The majority of aid received through federal grants is based on financial needs and not academic qualifications like grades or test scores. There are certain restrictions about who qualifies for federal grants (e.g., you cannot receive such assistance if your parents make over $34,000 annually), but the good news is that there are also many other sources of non-repayable financial aid like scholarships and college work-study opportunities.

  • Loans (Repayable Assistance):

You should know that it is the responsibility of every student to repay their loans, but lenders cannot make you pay your debt if you do not have a job or other means to make money. College students can receive two types of federal loans: Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on subsidized loans while you are in school at least half-time, during grace periods, and during deferment periods. Though many may be eligible for such options as well as income-based repayment plans, which allow monthly loan payments to reflect ability – rather than the fixed payment plans that are based on the amount borrowed.

Every college student has to get a job at some point in their education, whether it is during school or after graduation. Students need money for living expenses, books, and tuition fees apart from what their parents can help them with or scholarships they have received. Get your FAFSA form processed early so you have enough time to complete the loan process before you actually start looking for jobs since most students don’t get paid until around two weeks after starting work. There are many types of jobs available on-campus including positions in cafeterias, libraries, and student unions; off-campus opportunities include restaurants, retail chains, and local businesses where you can acquire valuable professional experience while earning extra money. If you have a job, be sure to list it on your FAFSA so you can receive aid from student loans.

Though the money received from federal student aid may not be sufficient, there are many other sources of financial support available out there. In addition to grants and scholarships, students should consider looking for opportunities within their own communities – state programs, community organizations, and businesses often provide additional educational funding as well as employment services. There is also something called Work-Study that assists college kids in finding suitable jobs related to their studies (including internships) that let them cover tuition expenses and living costs while gaining valuable work experience. You may not need to repay such earnings during school but will certainly do so getting a good job; hence make sure you research and find the best position that does not conflict with your field of study.

How long does it take to receive FAFSA?

You should begin by completing the FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The online form can be submitted as early as January 1st of any school year and requires information about the student as well as his parents or legal guardians. You will need to provide data such as names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and incomes regardless if they are employed or unemployed so to determine financial aid like educational loans and grants. It takes around two weeks to receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) – green paper faxed straight from the government – unless the application has been filled out incorrectly. If there are any mistakes, you will have to start the process all over again with the hope of having everything sorted out before classes begin.

What is the documentation?

You will be asked to provide proof of your identities such as your driver’s license and social security card. Don’t worry; there are certain documents that do not require any official ID, like bank statements and W-2 forms (provided by employers). You will also need to provide parent information if you are a dependent student. This means that your parents must fill out the FAFSA in order for it to be accepted, even if they do not have jobs or earn money since only you can apply for financial aid on their behalf.

What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?

Both types of federal loans include fixed interest rates determined by Congress along with grace periods when no payments are required. During this time, students are allowed to find jobs so they have money coming in even though they don’t have to pay for classes or tuition fees. This can be a great opportunity to maintain an income while saving up for books and other supplies.

The difference is that subsidized student loans are awarded to undergraduates who need financial support since their parents do not earn enough money. To be able to qualify, applicants must prove that they are enrolled at least half-time at an eligible higher learning institute. On the other hand, unsubsidized college loans are aimed at graduate students as well as those pursuing professional degrees like PhDs and MBAs, regardless of whether their family earns enough money or not. Applicants must submit FAFSA by April 15th to be considered for federal student aid.

The amount of money you receive from the government depends on financial need, which is determined based on income and family size. For this reason, your eligibility threshold will depend on such factors as college costs and your living situation. You can find out if you qualify here:; however it may take around 4-6 weeks before any awards are issued so it’s best to apply early in order to avoid unnecessary delays. Wait times vary per state and institution so make sure to check with your school or student loan servicing company about the availability of funds.


How long does it take to get FAFSA money? 

The DOE takes only 3 to 4 days for processing your information after you fill the form online, and 10 days if you send them the application through the mail. After which, you’ll receive Student Aid Report (SAR). 

It doesn’t take long to receive financial aid from FAFSA but you have to be aware of the different deadlines of colleges. 

Around the time of admissions, the college receives your FAFSA form to see what type of grant can be given to you according to your financial situation. Many colleges send out financial aid award letters with admission acceptance letters to the students.  

Pay attention to deadlines: 

You must pay special attention to deadlines because every state and college has its own deadlines that usually occur at the beginning of an academic semester. You must look out for FAFSA’s deadline and fill the form in time. 

FAFSA will notify you about different scholarships. Soon after your information gets processed by DOE, you’ll receive your student aid report (SAR) that will determine what type of aid you would be eligible to receive. The various states and colleges also use the data from FAFSA to see if you fulfill their policies for financial aid. 

The most common types of aid you can receive through FAFSA are:

  • Federal Pell Grant 
  • Work-study programs
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Direct subsidized loans 
  • Direct unsubsidized loans 

Start the planning early to receive the student financial aid on time

After you receive the SAR report, you can plan what college is suitable for you to attend, thanks to the information given in the SAR. 

The colleges might inform you of their additional institutional financial aid programs after analyzing your FAFSA data, requiring you to apply for them on your own. 

If you get accepted in more than one college, you can compare which college offers to cover more of your expenses and notify them of your aid acceptance. 

How long will it take to receive financial aid?

You won’t be receiving any money directly. Your selected college will use the aid to pay for your tuition, and if after cutting all the costs, any money remains, you’ll get it for buying books and other supplies. Also, if you need more money to meet any unexpected expenses, you could take out emergency loans of small amounts from the financial aid office. 

You would also need to maintain your academic results to keep your financial aid eligibility valid. You would also have to renew your FAFSA form each year to receive a grant for the new semesters.  


After you fill the FAFSA form, the processing starts right away. You can receive the FAFSA money just in time you start your college semester.