FAFSA4caster- Estimate Federal Aid

Within minutes, FAFSA4caster will indicate your eligibility for the following: 

  • The FAFSA4caster is a free tool created by the U.S. Department of Education. 


  • Although it does not take into account state-based or institutional aid, the FAFSA4caster generates an estimate of your federal aid eligibility based on your family's reported income and assets. 



Screen Shot 2020-05-25 at 3.56.26 AM.png

* It may take between 1-3 days for the Social Security Administration to verify and match your reported information. Once verified, you will receive a confirmation email. 

  • In order to electronically complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you need to create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID), made up of a selected username and password.

  • Dependent students also need to have one legal parent create an FSA ID to complete their FAFSA. 



FAFSA- Federal Student Aid

*In a minimum of 3-5 days, your Student Aid Report will become available after submitting the FAFSA. Check the report for accuracy and log back into the FAFSA to make necessary corrections or updates.

The SAR includes: 

  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

  • If you are selected for Verification

  • Pell Grant Eligibility

  • Loan Summary

  • Cost: Free


  • All students applying for financial aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is the form that the federal government, states, colleges, and other organizations use to award financial aid.


  • The FAFSA utilizes the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT), allowing eligible taxpayers to transfer information directly from their federal income tax returns to answer corresponding questions on the FAFSA. It also minimizes the likelihood of being selected for verification.


IRS- Tax Transcript

Request for Tax Transcript
*If you didn’t file taxes, IRS Form 4506-T allows you to request an IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter (by checking box #7),  which provides proof that the IRS has no record of a filed Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ for the year you requested.
  • Using the IRS DRT will reduce the likelihood of your FAFSA being selected for verification. However, not using the IRS DRT will undoubtedly result in your FAFSA being selected for verification, which will delay the processing of your information.

  • When selected for verification, colleges will request additional documentation, including the IRS Form 4506-T.


CSS Profile

CSS Profile Institutional Aid- Grants

$25 to submit the CSS Profile  to one school 

$16 for each additional school 


Fee Waivers:

Fee Waivers are applied to the accounts of students who indicate that they are an orphan, a ward of the court, or their parental household income is less than $45,000 for a family of four. 

The CSS Profile is managed through the College Board. Any student who qualified for an SAT fee waiver will automatically have fee waivers applied to their CSS profile online account when using the same credentials.

  • Every student applying for financial aid must complete the FAFSA. However, nearly 400 participating schools require an additional form.  The College Scholarship Services Profile (CSS Profile) determines eligibility for institutional financial aid.



IDOC- Institutional Documentation Service

* View this list of CSS Profile participating schools.  Use the dropdown menu to determine which schools require documents to be uploaded to IDOC. 

  • When applying for institutional aid through the CSS Profile, colleges may request supportive financial documents.


  • The Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC) makes it easy to upload requested documents in one centralized location for participating colleges to access.   

Loan Counseling

Loan Counseling Details:

  • It can take up to 30 minutes to complete.

  • Log in with your FSA ID.

  • Entrance Loan Counseling only needs to be completed once.  

  • Exit Loan Counseling will need to be completed in the event you:

    • Graduate

    • Change your attendance to less than half-time.

    • Transfer to another institution

    • Take a leave of absence for more than 180 days. 

For students taking out federal loans:

  • The federal government requires student Loan Entrance Counseling.


  • Understand your rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

  • Learn how your future earnings will impact your:

    • Monthly payment plan

    • Repayment Options

Federal Loan Counseling

Master Promissory Note

Master Promissory Note

For students taking out federal loans:

  • Before a loan is disbursed to a college, you must accept responsibility for it by signing a Master Promissory Note (MPN).

  • The MPN is a legal document obligating you to repay your loan(s), accrued interest, and fees to the U.S. Department of Education.

MPN Details:

  • Once a Master Promissory Note is signed for the first time, it is valid for ten years and covers any subsequent loans taken out within that timeframe.

Parent Plus Loan

Parent Plus Loan

Loan Details:

  • Approval is contingent upon the borrower's credit.

  • Parent Plus Loan- 5.30% Fixed APR (2020-2021)

  • Origination Fee- 4.236% APR (2019-2020)

  • No pre-payment penalties.

  • In cases of extreme hardship, deferment of payment is possible.

  • If the loan is denied, your Direct Unsubsidized Loan can increase to the amount awarded to independent students.

  • Options for repayment are available.

For parents of dependent students:

  • After determining the amount of federal, state, and institutional financial aid that your family is eligible to receive, any remaining gap that is too large to pay outright or through an arranged payment plan with the college can be entirely covered with a Parent Plus Loan.  

529 Plan

529 College Savings Plan

529 Plan Details:

  • Interest earned is tax-free. 

  • Withdrawals for qualified educational expenses are tax-free.

  • You can take advantage of plans outside of your state.

  • Some states (not federal) offer tax credit or deductions for plan contributions.

  • Accounts can be reassigned to any member of the family if the original recipient no longer needs it.

  • A non-qualified withdrawal has a 10% tax penalty and other fees.

For families who want to save in advance:

  • The 529 plan is a state-sponsored college savings plan that offers numerous tax benefits. 


  • When calculating need-based aid, colleges view 529 Plans more favorably than other saving options. 

© 2020 Accessing Excellence. All Rights Reserved