By Ryan Laspina
Analyst, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
The Department of Education (ED) offers all aspiring college students an extremely helpful online tool called the FAFSA4caster. This tool is essentially a free financial aid calculator that gives you an estimate for your eligibility for Federal Student Aid (FSA).
While this tool is useful for calculating your eligibility for federal aid, remember that you still have to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to receive any FSA. Just using the calculator and seeing your estimate does not guarantee that you will be receiving that amount without filling out the FAFSA.
Who Can Use The FAFSA4caster
Anyone who is an aspiring college student can use the FAFSA4caster. It is suggested that you use this tool well before you are ready to start college. It provides you with the option to create future scenarios based on future earnings and establish strategies for funding your college education.
Where to Find The FAFSA4caster
The FAFSA4caster can be found at https://fafsa.ed.gov/. Click on the FAFSA4caster link under the heading “Thinking About College?” After clicking on the box, start answering the questions on the FAFSA4caster.
Information Provided by The FASFA4caster
The FAFSA4caster offers you an estimate of the net cost of attending the school of your choice. To make the estimate as accurate as possible, provide the FAFSA4caster with information about yourself, including the Cost of Attendance (COA) of your school, your dependency status and any non-FSA aid you expect to receive.
After you provide all the necessary information, the FAFSA4caster provides you with an estimate for the Federal Pell Grant, your Federal Work-Study amount (if applicable) and your maximum Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loan eligibility.
The FAFSA4caster is one of many tools the ED provides to help college students better prepare for the financial burden of attending college. Financial literacy is of utmost importance, and tools like the FAFSA4caster help you better understand your financial situation in regard to attending the school of your choice.