What Is FAFSA4caster®?

FAFSA4Caster® is a tool that allows individuals to get estimates about financial aid eligibility before filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). You can use the FAFSA4Caster® to start financially planning for college before you’re ready to file your FAFSA®.  

Do I Need to Use FAFSA4caster®?

No one is obligated to use the FAFSA4Caster®. It’s simply a tool to help you understand what kind of aid you can get from filling out the FAFSA®. 

The FAFSA4Caster® is especially helpful for those who aren’t sure they are eligible for federal aid, or who have no idea how much they might be expected to pay for college. Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) can take you by surprise when you finally do file your FAFSA®. With the FAFSA4Caster®, you’ll have some idea of how much you and your family are expected to contribute towards the cost of your education.   

You don’t have to worry about your information or privacy when you use it. The tool is encrypted to protect whatever data you enter. 

What Information Do I Need to Fill out the FAFSA4Caster®?

You’ll use the same information to fill out the FAFSA4Caster® that you’ll eventually use to fill out the FAFSA®. The primary difference is that you can use income estimates on the FAFSA4Caster®, while on the FAFSA® accurate information is a requirement. 

However, if you’re using the FAFSA4Caster® to get estimates for a child who won’t be going to college for several years, remember that your finances could drastically change in the intervening years. You can try filling it out a few times to get several sets of data. Understand how different life choices or financial situations will impact your financial aid awards when college time comes. 

What Are The Limitations Of The Calculator?

If you’re planning on applying for aid directly from your university (including scholarships) or state financial aid, that will not show up in the calculator. Those funds would further reduce your EFC. Just remember that theFAFSA4Caster® does not tell you every single piece of financial aid you’ll be eligible for, nor is it a guarantee of what kind of financial aid offers to expect. 

This simple tool provides valuable information to help you financially prepare for college. While high school juniors will find the FAFSA4Caster® especially useful, younger students and those students’ parents should also use it. When you begin your FAFSA® filing, it’s critical to know what to expect. 

UPDATE – September 27, 2020: FAFSA4Caster® is no longer available.  

FSA, which developed the FAFSA4Caster® tool, announced that the tool will no longer be available.  


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