Skip to Content Bruce Rauner, Governor, State of Illinois

New bill would provide priority access to Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for returning students:

Here’s what you need to know

A new bill (see the underlined text at https://bit.ly/2LCuRPe) aimed at providing students more certainty about the MAP awards in their financial aid packages is likely to become law.*  Because the bill appears to have created some confusion, ISAC is providing this brief Q&A for students so they know what this might mean for them.

*Please note that this bill has not yet been signed into law. We are providing this Q&A because the bill has received a lot of press coverage and is likely to be signed into law.

Here are the most important things you need to know as a returning MAP-eligible student:

Returning students will still have to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) every year and must file by the priority access deadline in order to receive priority access to funds.

This priority access program would begin with the 2020-21 school year; therefore ISAC will not post a priority access deadline until sometime closer to October 1, 2019, when FAFSA filing for the 2020-21 school year begins.

What exactly does this bill do?

The bill provides priority access for MAP-eligible returning students, beginning with the 2020-21 school year. So if a returning student completes the FAFSA each year by the priority access date (which ISAC would publicize well in advance) and is still eligible for MAP, they will receive a MAP grant. Please note however that all MAP funds are, and would continue to be, subject to annual appropriation by the General Assembly.

Does this mean I will be guaranteed a MAP Grant for four years?

If you are an eligible returning student and you complete your FAFSA by the priority deadline, you will get a MAP grant so long as the state has appropriated sufficient funds for MAP for that fiscal/academic year. The MAP grant is not an absolute guarantee because the state must appropriate funds for it each year. That said, the program has been funded each year for 50 years (although, like many other programs, it was funded very late during the recent two-year budget delay). 

Do I still have to complete the FAFSA every year to get a MAP Grant?

Yes! You must apply every year for MAP by completing the FAFSA. The FAFSA is not only the application for MAP, but it is also the application for federal Pell grants and often for your school’s institutional aid as well, so you should file the FAFSA as early as possible each year you plan to attend school.

As a returning student, you will be notified of a priority access deadline for MAP. (Please note that the priority access program will not begin until the 2020-21 school year). If you file your FAFSA by that deadline and continue to be eligible for MAP, you will receive an award so long as the state has appropriated sufficient funding for that year.

When will we know what the priority deadline will be for MAP?

Not till next year! The bill provides that the priority access program will not begin until the 2020-21 school year, so ISAC will not be posting a priority deadline until closer to October 1, 2019.

Students can begin filing the FAFSA on October 1st of each calendar year preceding the year they plan to attend school.

Returning students who will be filing their FAFSAs beginning October 1st 2019 for the 2020-21 school year will be notified of a priority access date. ISAC will be posting the priority access deadline on our website and we also expect that returning students will be notified by their school of the priority access deadline for MAP well before the 2020-21 FAFSA becomes available on October 1, 2019.

What if I don’t get my FAFSA in by the priority access deadline? Does that mean I won’t get a MAP Grant?

No, you might still have the opportunity to get a MAP Grant if you get your FAFSA filed as soon as possible after that date. If you file your FAFSA after the priority access deadline, you will not have priority access to funding.

Each year there is more demand for MAP than available funds, and MAP is awarded to eligible students on a first come, first served basis according to the date the student files their FAFSA.  MAP-eligible returning students who file their FAFSAs by the priority access deadline date will get priority access to funds should there be a funding shortfall. If you file after that date, you could still receive an award if sufficient funding is still available to provide awards. Note that the longer you wait to file your FAFSA after the priority access deadline, the less likely that you will get an award.