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MAP Facts

How MAP works

  • MAP grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis based on financial need to students who fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or to students who are eligible to complete the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid.
    • Financial need is determined by subtracting a student’s family resources from the chosen college’s total cost of attendance. 
    • The award amount is based on the number of credit hours for which the student is enrolled, with full awards going to students enrolled in 15 hours or more per semester.
    • Eligible applicants who are not initially awarded grants have their applications put “in suspense”—essentially, on a wait list. If fewer applicants claim their grants than ISAC initially projected, the agency can offer grants to applicants who were initially on the “wait list.” Depending on the funding available for FY 21, there may be enough to provide grants to all eligible students, leaving no applications “in suspense.”
    • Beginning with the 2020-21 school year, returning MAP recipients have priority access to MAP funds. What this means is that a returning MAP recipient who continues to be MAP-eligible and who completes their FAFSA (or, if applicable, their Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid) by the priority deadline set by ISAC will get a MAP grant so long as the state has appropriated sufficient funds for MAP for that fiscal/academic year. For more information about Priority Access MAP, see our FAQs.

About MAP recipients

  • More than half (53%) of MAP recipients are so low-income that the federal government doesn't consider them able to contribute any resources to pay for college. In FY 19, the average family income of a dependent (“traditional”) MAP recipient was $35,821/year, and the average income of an independent (“non-traditional”) MAP recipient was $18,156/year.
  • Of the undergraduates at Illinois's public universities who identify themselves as Black or Hispanic, we estimate about half receive a MAP grant.
  • Approximately 54% of MAP recipients are first-generation college students. (First-generation students are defined here as those who do not have at least one parent who completed college.)
  • Despite their financial challenges, MAP recipients graduate from college at about the same rates as their peers at the same institutions. 
  • MAP recipients are enrolled in all sectors of higher education. Community college students are offered the largest percentage of grants, while the number of students actually claiming grants is highest in the public university sector.


Dollar amount of award is based on student's estimated financial need, hours enrolled, and cost of attendance at student's selected MAP-eligible school.