If you’re wondering how much Federal financial aid you or your child might be eligible for, the U.S. Department of Education offers a handy FAFSA calculator. By taking 20-30 minutes to plug in some basic data from your tax returns, as well as some information about your assets, you can find out how large of a Federal financial aid package you might qualify for.
The FAFSA calculator, officially known as the Fafsa4Caster, is encrypted for the safety of your personal information. It's also free to use and should be completed by every parent or student even if they think they won’t be eligible for aid, since many people are often surprised at the programs available to middle class parents.
To use the FAFSA calculator, visit www.Fafsa4Caster.ed.gov and have the following information ready:
- The student’s Social Security number.
- The student's and parent’s W-2’s from the previous tax year.
- The student's and parent’s tax return from the previous year.
- Current bank and investment statements.
- Current mortgage summary.
Fafsa4Caster also serves as a great warm-up for anyone who will eventually have to complete the official FAFSA application, since many of the questions are identical. In fact, using the official FAFSA calculator will save you significant time later since many of your answers are automatically transferred to your future FAFSA applications.
For more updated information about different types of financial aid available from the U.S. government and other sources, including grants, loans, scholarships and work-study, read more here. The Federal Student Aid website also offers step by step information about applying for college, preparing for college tests, and choosing loan repayment plans, among other recommendations. Like their website says, "Minds can achieve anything. We make sure they get to college."