If you just completed your FAFSA form -- the free application for federal student aid -- you may be wondering when you'll find out just how much the federal government will kick in for your degree. Fortunately, checking the FAFSA status of your application is quick and easy.
How soon you can check your FAFSA status will depend on how you applied. If you filled out the FAFSA online like 98% of today's students, you should be able to check your FAFSA status within three to five days after applying, if not sooner, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
You can check your FAFSA status online with your name, Social Security number, date of birth and the personal identification number you used to sign your application. Once you log in, you should be able to view and print your student aid report, which will let you confirm all the information you've submitted and what the Department of Education expects your family to be able to pay for school -- the expected family contribution (EFC).
If you filled out the paper form, you may have to wait up to two weeks to confirm your FAFSA status and get your student aid report. You can do so by calling the department's hotline -- 1-800-4FEDAID. Students who applied online may also call the hotline to ask questions or check their FAFSA status.
What happens after you confirm your FAFSA status? Your college of choice will use the information you submitted to calculate how much financial aid -- federal, state and university -- you can expect to receive. Letters with that information are usually mailed out to students in early to mid-April, according to financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz.
Many colleges have reported steep increases in the number of students applying for financial aid. But even though the Department of Education says that FAFSA applications are up 20% over last year, there's been no delay in processing them. Students are still getting their FAFSA status and award letters on time, says Department of Education spokeswoman Jane Glickman.
"We are right on schedule, and it's very quick and easy to do," says Glickman. "There's been no delay at all in students being able to check their FAFSA status."
How to check FAFSA status and see how much financial aid to expect