After you submit your FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov, the data will go to the Federal Processing Center, and the results sent to the college(s) you selected on the form. You will receive a Student Aid Report confirming the processing of your FAFSA.
The FAFSA result is called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and reflects what the federal government believes your family can contribute for college expenses. The colleges use the EFC to determine the amount of financial aid they can offer you based on this standard formula:
The college(s) will send you an award letter that lists the types and amounts of financial aid you can receive at their institution. The award package may be a combination of scholarships, grants, work-study and student loans. You may accept or decline any of the aid offered to you. If the college cannot meet your entire "financial need" they might offer a PLUS Loan for parents.