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College Financial Aide

You’ve been working on your child’s college financial aid, right? Don’t forget to use your PIN to check the SAR on your FAFSA and see if your EFC will qualify you for a PELL grant.

Say what?

If you’re having trouble navigating your way through the modern financial aid system, you’re not alone. Finding, applying, and receiving different types of financial aid can be one of the biggest headaches associated with college-bound children or grandchildren. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

ALWAYS apply for financial aid. Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, FAFSA stands for Free Application for Student Financial Aid. Anyone can apply, and depending on how soon you apply and the money available, families with many different income levels can receive some type of aid. Each school to which your child applies will put together a financial aid award package based on the results of your FAFSA form. When you apply, you are given a personal identification number (“PIN”), which functions just like a PIN that a bank gives you. You use this PIN to log on to your forms and sign them when you are finished.

Determine your EFC. FAFSA forms have a mathematical formula that determines your EFC. EFC stands for Estimated Family Contribution. It is the amount of money a family is expected to contribute toward a child’s education. This number does not represent how much the family can afford, but rather what the calculator indicates you should afford. It’s an important distinction!

Check the SAR. The SAR is your Student Aid Report, and it’s a summary of all the answers and information you’ve entered into the FAFSA form. You should print a copy of your SAR to keep for your own records. That way, when you fill out the individual school financial aid forms, your information will be consistent.


Once the schools receive your information, they will put together a financial aid package and present it to you. Your package can contain a wide variety of options for you to choose from, including grants, loans, and scholarships. If your EFC is low, you may be offered a PELL Grant. PELL grants help pay for college and do not need to be paid back! 

The next time someone asks if you used your PIN to check the SAR on your FAFSA to see if you are eligible for a PELL, you can reply with a resounding and confident “Yes!”

There are many different types of loans available to parents and students. Not every loan may be right for your situation. Want a clearer picture before you dive in? Please schedule some time with our office to conduct an in-depth analysis of your current financial situation.


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