The federal government remains the largest distributor of student loans in the United States. Undergraduates received an average of $5,056 in student loans during the 2011-2012 school year, and graduate students received an average of $16,796 in federal loans. To qualify for a federal loan, all undergraduate or graduate students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out what sort of aid package they qualify for. Your FAFSA record is linked to your current institution, so if you transfer to another school, you will need to make sure your FAFSA follows you there.

Why Your Loan May Change When You Change Schools

When you apply for a loan, the office of Federal Student Aid sends your FAFSA information to the 10 schools you listed on your application. You will also receive a Student Aid Report from the government before this, which gives you an estimate of the type of loan package you can expect to receive. You will then hear from each of the schools you listed regarding what loan package each school is offering you. Each individual school makes the final decision on your total federal aid amount, and each school may have a different package in mind for you, so if you change schools, your aid package may change as well.

How to Change Your FAFSA Online

Your aid will not automatically follow you if you transfer institutions. If the college you plan to transfer to is not on your original FAFSA, then you will need to make changes to your FAFSA to reflect this change. To make changes online, you will need your Department of Education Personal Identification Number to make any changes. You created a PIN to submit your FAFSA electronically in the first place, and you can use this same PIN to edit your FAFSA year after year as needed. After you've logged into the FAFSA website, click on the link "Make FAFSA Corrections" to make changes to the colleges that receive your request for a loan. After you've made your corrections, you can use your PIN to electronically sign your document and submit it. Any new college on the list will now process your aid request and send you their offered aid package.

How to Change Your FAFSA Over the Phone

To change your FAFSA over the phone, you will need your Data Release Number (DRN), which you will be able to find either on your Student Aid Report or on your online FAFSA account. The number for the Federal Student Aid Information Center is 1-800-433-3243, and the call center is open seven days a week. You will be able to make any changes regarding what colleges receive your request for a loan package by saying "customer service" at the initial prompt and speaking to an agent. You should expect to hear from any new school added to your list within a month. If you do not, then call the Student Financial Office at your new school to see about the status of your loan request.

How to Change Your FAFSA Through the Mail

You can also make changes through the mail by requesting a paper SAR be sent to you. You will need to call the Federal Student Aid Information Center, choose the "Application Status" option, and then say "Paper SAR." The 10-page document will then be mailed to you and should arrive within 10 days. You can make any changes to your school or anything else directly on the paper report. Write the names of any new colleges you've chosen to receive your loan request in the blank spaces next to the old information printed on the form and send the entire document back to the federal processor at the P.O. Box address found near the signature line on the document.