Typically, students submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), online or by paper, sometime after October 1 of their senior year in high school. For many students this is their first exposure to the financial aid process. But by this time many students are making final choices about their options for college, without the financial aid information they need.

That’s why we developed FAFSA4caster as an early estimator, because students need to have an idea about their financial aid eligibility before October of their senior year.

So the main difference between the FAFSA and FAFSA4caster is that FAFSA4caster provides students with more specific financial aid information earlier in the process. FAFSA4caster will take your data and estimate your eligibility for aid so that you can have this information when you are making decisions about college.

Note: The FAFSA must be used to apply for aid once you have decided to apply for admission and attend college. You must be aware of state and college filing deadlines and apply on time at fafsa.ed.gov.