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How Long Does It Take For the FAFSA to Be Processed?

By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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and Cece Gilmore

Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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Reviewed by Bill Jack

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: November 30th, 2023
How Long Does It Take For the FAFSA to Be Processed?

According to the FSA, the FAFSA takes about 3-5 days to process if you submit it online. If you submit it on paper, it typically takes about 7-10 days. Upon processing, responses will be returned instantly if you fill out your online contact information correctly. If you opt to receive your results back via mail, they will take longer to reach you. As a result, you might not receive your results for 2-3 weeks.

Also see: How to complete this year’s FAFSA

What will I learn from the results?

Once the FAFSA is processed, your results will be returned in the form of a Student Aid Report, or SAR. As you receive your SAR, the colleges that you applied to will receive copies as well. This report contains your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. This figure determines how much the government expects you and your family to pay for your education. It is determined by analyzing you and your parents’ income and assets.

Related: Can I make corrections to my FAFSA after submitting?

When do I receive my financial aid offers from schools?

Once the FAFSA is processed, the schools you submit it to will begin their financial aid review. If you are accepted to the college, they will use the FAFSA information to help determine your financial aid. It is typically considered in conjunction with the CSS Profile. Each school varies in the time it takes to put together a financial aid package. Typically, the financial aid offer will accompany your acceptance letter.

Read more: CSS Profile Vs. FAFSA: What you need to know

When do schools receive my FAFSA information?

When you receive your student aid report, the schools you listed on your application will also receive Institutional Student Aid Reports. These contain the same information that is on your SAR. So, if you have received your FAFSA results, rest assured that the schools you listed have received them too.

Related: How to add more schools to the FAFSA

Submit your FAFSA as soon as possible!

Although the FAFSA is typically reliable in its timeline, it’s a good idea to submit it on the earlier side. It’s good to know your EFC as early as possible so you can make financial decisions with it in mind. It’s also helpful to leave some wiggle room in case there is a technical error with your application. It could be that you or one of your parents forgets to sign it or some of the figures were incorrect. In situations like these, it’s good to have time to troubleshoot.

Learn more: When is this year’s FAFSA deadline?

Frequently asked questions about how long it takes for the FAFSA to be processed

What types of funding can I get from the FAFSA?

The FAFSA can directly qualify you for federal aid, such as the Pell Grant and federal loans. Schools also use the information on the FAFSA to determine your institutional aid.

How do I know if my FAFSA was approved?

You can check the status of your FAFSA application by logging into your account at Click on the “My FAFSA” page to check if your FAFSA has been accepted.

Can I make corrections to my FAFSA after it’s been submitted?

Yes, you can make corrections to your submitted FAFSA. In order to do so you need to log into your FSA account, select the FAFSA you want to correct and choose the “Make FAFSA corrections” option. Keep in mind that corrections may take a few days to be processed!

Can I submit a paper FAFSA?

Yes! However, submitting a paper FAFSA may take longer to process compared to an electronic submission. It can take up to 7 to 10 days for a paper FAFSA to be processed. However, the exact processing time varies based on a multitude of factors.

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