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How long does it take FAFSA® to process?

How to Pay for College > How do I Apply? > Next Steps After FAFSA® > How long does it take FAFSA® to process?

The time it takes to hear back from your FAFSA® submission can seem like ages, but you’ll be happy to know the process can be quicker than you’d think.

For an electronically filed FAFSA® signed online with an FSA ID, you’ll receive a link to your Student Aid Report (SAR) in as little as 3 to 5 days . By contrast, paper FAFSA® applications can take up to 3 weeks, so how long it takes really depends on how you’ve applied.

How Long Does It Take To File FAFSA®?

If you need to gather necessary information for filing and you are filing for the first time, it can take a couple of hours to file your FAFSA®. If you are filing online and if you already have the necessary information information ready, it take 4 – 60 minutes for a first time filer depending on the online filing tool you use.

Form Type First Time Filer (Avg) Renewal (Avg)
Paper FAFSA® 3 hours 3 hours
Online FAFSA® 1 hour 45 minutes
 Frank 4 minutes 4 minutes
Corrections 10 minutes 10 minutes

How Long Does It Take To Process FAFSA®?

After you submit your FAFSA® and it processes, you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR)  in about 3 to 14 days or sometimes longer depending on if your receive it over email or by post, and other factors.

To receive your SAR  in the quickest amount of time, complete the the form online, provide an email address, and sign the FAFSA® using your FSA ID. You can also create your which is a personal identification number used to access federal student aid information and legally sign electronic documents.

If you don’t provide your email address on the electronic FAFSA®, you will receive a paper SAR in the mail in about 7 to 10 days. For those who have filled out the form online, provided a valid email address, but haven’t signed the FAFSA® with an FSA ID, receiving the SAR by email can take up to two weeks.

You can fill out the paper form and provide an email address on the application, which ensures you receive a link to your SAR via email in two weeks.

Without an FSA ID or email address, a paper form will take as long as three weeks to process and send out your SAR. Also, providing an invalid email address on the FAFSA® using any method will result in a delayed SAR.

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