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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

As soon as you've wrapped up your college applications, you should plan to file your FAFSA. FAFSA stands for "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" - but we like to think of it as "Financial Aid's First Step Always." Families sometimes avoid filing a FAFSA because they don't think they'll qualify for federal aid. But the FAFSA does more than determine your eligibility for federal student aid (student loans, grants and federal Work-Study programs) - most schools also use the FAFSA to help decide your eligibility for scholarships and non-federal student aid. And states often use the FAFSA to determine state aid. Please check with for updates to the FAFSA process.

Some colleges and universities require additional forms such as the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®. Please check with your school to see if additional information is required in addition to the FAFSA.

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Step 2 - Student Aid Report (SAR)

About four weeks after you file the FAFSA, you'll be emailed and asked to visit the Department of Education website to view a Student Aid Report (SAR) that confirms the information you filed. Check carefully for errors - any problems with your SAR can make a big difference in the aid you receive. Keep a copy of the SAR for your records.

If you haven't received your Student Aid Report four weeks after completing the FAFSA, you should contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.

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Whether you're planning to borrow or preparing for repayment, we offer tools to help you create strategies that work best for you.

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You are encouraged to explore all scholarship, grant and federal borrowing options before applying for a private loan.

PNC does not provide accounting, tax or legal advice.