Applying for Financial Aid
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The FAFSA is the first step in the financial aid process. It is used to apply for federal student financial aid such as grants, loans and work study. In addition, postsecondary schools use information from the FAFSA to award non-federal financial aid. The application is available free of charge.
The FAFSA and ISAC Gift Assistance Programs
For Illinois residents, the FAFSA is also the application used for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant and the Illinois Incentive for Access (IIA) Program. Students must list an Illinois postsecondary school as one of the school choices on the FAFSA to be considered for the MAP and IIA grants.
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) administers several gift assistance programs for Illinois students. Each program has its own eligibility requirements, features, benefits, application, and priority consideration date or deadline. Visit the ISAC Gift Assistance Section to learn more about each program.
The Financial Aid Process: Paying for College
(English and Spanish versions available)
These ready-to-use Power Point presentations include information for the 2012-13 academic year and are geared toward high school juniors, seniors and their parents. This basic presentation explains the federal and state financial aid process, as well as the 2013-14 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The presentations, with talking points, may be viewed or downloaded from this site.
Other State-Sponsored Programs
In addition to federal and state programs, many agencies, associations and organizations (e.g., corporations, civic groups, and religious groups) provide dollars to college students. There are different eligibility requirements, award amounts, application forms and application deadlines for each type of financial aid, so students should research these carefully. The State of Illinois also sponsors/administers financial aid programs through other state departments and agencies.
Scholarship Search Services
Several scholarship search services are available to assist students in obtaining information about possible sources of financial aid. In addition, public and college libraries have a number of indexes and publications that list private scholarship, fellowship and grant programs, as well as provide descriptions and application information.