Financial Aid Awareness Month in Illinois

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Published on February 16 2013 4:37 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Governor Quinn has proclaimed February as Financial Aid Awareness Month (FAAM) in Illinois and encourages students and families to take full advantage of the college preparation and planning resources available in their communities.

To help students and families increase their financial aid literacy, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is hosting nearly 200 events across the state offering help in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and an opportunity to learn about the wide range of college financial aid opportunities and the college selection and admission process.

A calendar of local events, updated daily, is available on the ISAC website, www.isac.org.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission notes that there are several sources for non-loan grant aid, assistance that does not need to be repaid. The Monetary Award Program (MAP) is Illinois’ large-scale grant program, which, for over 50 years, has helped Illinoisans pay for tuition and fees at Illinois colleges and universities. MAP grants are awarded based on financial need using information collected on the FAFSA.

ISAC cautions that this year, more Illinois students are filing the FAFSA early and that will likely result in the depletion projected MAP grant funds earlier than ever before. In 2012, students filing a FAFSA after April 2, even if fully qualified, were unable to receive a grant as funding had already been exhausted.

According to ISAC, even if a MAP grant is not available, many undergraduate students may qualify for a federal Pell Grant, which can provide up to $5,645 for students attending a Pell-eligible institution full time. Pell plays an important role in the total student financial aid picture. Last year, Illinois students received nearly $1.3 billion in Pell grants, an amount nearly four times as great as MAP.

ISAC notes that the FAFSA is the key. Without one, the opportunities for non-institutional financial assistance are reduced greatly.

Information on the number of FAFSAs received, as well as the dollar amount of projected MAP and Pell grants, is posted on the ISAC website and is updated regularly.