12 Summary of the Financial Aid Process Students receive financial aid in the form of grants, schol- arships, work-study, and loans. While some financial aid is merit-based (scholarships), most financial aid is based on financial need. To receive need-based financial aid, parents and students must submit a FAFSA. They must also complete the college’s financial aid application, and in some cases, the CSS PROFILE. Within 1-3 weeks of submitting the FAFSA, students receive their official Student Aid Report (SAR). This report contains their Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount the family will be expected to pay for college the following year. Students have a financial need if their EFC is less than the cost of attendance. College financial aid officers put together financial aid pack- age for the students who qualify. These packages consist of grants, scholarships, work-study, and/or loans. Since financial aid packages vary, families need to carefully compare the packages they receive. Just as taxpayers want to understand tax lawssotheycanlowertheirtaxes,parents should take the time to learn how the financial aid system works. There are a number of excellent print resources available on financial aid, and there is a wealth of information online. See Part VII for a list of recommended books and websites.