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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 in determining need for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant. Students must list an Illinois postsecondary school as one of the school choices on the FAFSA to be considered for a MAP grant.

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.

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.