This Is How Long it Takes FAFSA to Process

This Is How Long it Takes FAFSA to Process

Your child has submitted their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but what’s next?

 It would help to have an estimate of when you will start receiving award letters.

Waiting for financial aid to process and be approved can seem like it takes forever.

To facilitate things on your end, start filling out the FAFSA as soon as possible (the form opens every year on October 1) and take into account important dates when completing the process.

Here is a typical timeline of the FAFSA process. 


How Long Does it Take to File the FAFSA? 

According to, it takes about an hour for most people to file the FAFSA. This includes the process of gathering the needed documents, filling out the application, and reading the information after they sign and click submit.


How Long Does it Take to Process Financial Aid?

Once the Department of Education receives completed documentation (either online or through the post) it sends the FAFSA to the colleges and universities that are indicated on the form.

According to, receiving a Student Aid Report (SAR) takes anywhere from three days to three weeks to be processed.

The University of Maryland indicated that it takes about three to five days for the Department of Education to receive the FAFSA and send it to the university.

Then, it typically takes two to three business days for the university to review the document if there is no additional information required.

Otherwise, the university needs to contact the applicant which can delay the process. 

Another thing to take into account is the possibility that your child’s FAFSA will be selected for verification.

This is the process a college or university undergoes to confirm the data on the FAFSA form is correct. It can include being required to send additional documentation to support the FAFSA information already on file.

According to the Office of Financial Aid at Ole Miss, it takes about three to four weeks to process verifications during peak season (June-Oct.), and two to three weeks during non-peak season. 


How Do I Know if My FAFSA Was Approved?

With so many factors, it can be confusing to know whether your FAFSA was processed successfully. You can check to ensure your FAFSA was approved by following the progress on the website.

The status of your FAFSA will be found on the MyFAFSA page

After their FAFSA is processed, your child will receive their SAR. This will contain the  Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This will be sent by email if your student provided a valid email address, and by postal mail if they did not. 


How Long Does it Take to Hear Back From FAFSA? states that you and your student will most likely hear back and receive their Student Aid Report in three to 14 days. It could be longer depending on the type of file used to submit your FAFSA. 

FAFSA processing has different timelines based on form type. 

  • For a paper FAFSA, it takes an average of three hours to file for both a first time and renewing individual. 
  • For an online FAFSA, it takes an average of one hour to file for first-timers and 45 minutes for renewers.
  • If the FAFSA requires corrections, they take an average of ten minutes to file for both first-timers and renewers. 


How Long Does FAFSA Take to Direct Deposit?

Many families paying for college wonder how long it takes to receive a financial aid check based on the FAFSA they submitted.

As an example, students attending the University of Illinois at Springfield, receive their financial aid in their accounts at least ten days prior to the start of the semester, and refunds are deposited the Friday before the start of the semester.

A refund is aid money above the cost of tuition and fees. It can be used for books, supplies, or other living expenses. It’s best to check with the financial aid office at your child’s college or university regarding the exact date aid will be disbursed. 






Hallie Underwood

Hallie Underwood is a writer, editor and reporter. She is a recent graduate of Upper Arlington High School in Columbus, Ohio and now is a first-year at Kenyon College majoring in English. She has written for organizations such as Balance the Ballot, a student newsource. She has been recognized by the Ohio Scholastic Media Association and the National Council of Teachers of English for her achievements. You can contact her on LinkedIn.