FAFSA4caster : Estimating Your Financial Aid Need and Eligibility

The FAFSA4caster is an online tool that high school students can use when anticipating their need for financial assistance upon entering college.

It is an online calculator provided by the Federal Student Aid Office to students such as those in junior or mid school level, and to parents who are not sure if they have the means to send their child to college. The FAFSA4caster is the next best tool to use to get a close enough estimate of a student’s eligibility for financial aid.

Knowing that the government calculates financial need by deducting the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the Cost of Attendance (COA) is a good start. However, having a near accurate estimation of the inputs to use for the formula, is better than making a wild guesstimate. Through the FAFSA4caster tool, an anticipating high school student or parent can obtain better estimates of the COA and EFC.

How does the FAFSA4caster Work?

The FAFSA4caster displays a worksheet that must be filled with the Cost of Attendance (COA), such as tuition fees, other educational expenses and living costs of the student’s chosen school. To get the information you need, go to the College Scorecard page of the U.S. DepEd.

A household’s potential financial contribution, on the other hand, can be estimated by providing answers to the FAFSA4caster questionnaire that determines financial capability of a potential college student. Here, it is important that all questions will be given answers even if based on near-enough guesses or estimates. Be ready with some personal records as some questions need answers based on personal documents such as bank statements or federal tax returns.

After which, the tool will display several sources of college funds, whilst indicating eligibility for federal financial aid like Pell Grant, Direct Subsidized or Direct Unsubsidized Loan, or Federal Work-Study program. If there are any state aid or college financial assistance that a student or parent considers as potential source of college funding, fill in the appropriate worksheet fields with the amounts.

Hitting the “Calculate” button will summarize the total anticipated College Attendance Cost, and the total potential financial aid. The resulting difference between those 2 sums will be Net Cost of Attending College. The Worksheet will also generate the Expected Family Contribution.

Since the goal is to determine a student’s financial need, apply the amounts generated by the FAFSA4caster as Total Cost of Attendance (COA) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for the government formula: COA – EFC = Student’s Financial Aid Need.