April 1, 2007
Students no longer have to wait until the last year of high school to learn whether the federal government will help pay for college.
Student's and their parent's can now go to http://FederalStudentAid.ed.gov and use the Department of Education's FAFSA4caster to get an idea of whether they are eligible for federal financial aid. The Web site also include tools that help families find scholarships as well as a tutorital on the financial-aid process.
The online calculator is based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which is required for most grants, loans, and scholarships. Typically, families cannot fill out the FAFSA and see an aid package until Jan. 1 of the year they plan to attend college. However, the FAFSA4caster can be completed at any time.
The tool estimates what the federal government would expect the family to contribute toward higher education costs. The online calculator will also indicate whether a student is likely to qualify for a Pell Grant.
A Spanish-language version of the forecaster will be available April 29.
Upgraded forecaster to estimate loan eligibility
In September, an upgraded forecaster is expected that will also estimate eligibility for federal loans.