JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Priority Access for Returning MAP Recipients FAQs

What does priority access mean for returning MAP recipients?

Returning Monetary Award Program (MAP) recipients who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) or Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid (Alternative Application) on or before a date established each year will receive priority access to annually appropriated MAP funds.

Who is eligible for the priority date?

To receive priority access for MAP, you must:

  • be a returning student
  • have received a MAP grant in the immediately prior academic year. For example, if you receive a MAP grant in the 2020-21 academic year and plan to attend college in 2021-22, you will need to file your FAFSA or Alternative Application no later than December 1, 2020 for priority access.

As long as you continue to be eligible for MAP and MAP funds have been appropriated, you will receive a MAP grant.

I believe I am MAP-eligible, but I didn’t get a MAP grant last year because I filed my application too late. Can I get priority access to MAP?

No. The provision applies only to those who received a MAP grant in the prior academic year. However, the sooner you file your FAFSA or Alternative Application after October 1, the more likely you are to get a MAP grant for the next academic year, as long as the state has appropriated funds.

I received a MAP grant two years ago, but then took a year off from school last year. Can I get priority access to MAP?

No. The provision applies only to those who received a MAP grant in the immediately prior academic year. However, the sooner you file your FAFSA or Alternative Application after October 1, the more likely you are to get a MAP grant for the following year, as long as the state has appropriated funds.

Does this mean I will receive a MAP grant for four years?

If you are a returning student who received a MAP award in the prior academic year, you complete your FAFSA or Alternative Application by the priority date, and you continue to be MAP-eligible, you will get a MAP grant as 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.

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

Yes. You must apply every year for MAP by completing the FAFSA or Alternative Application as early as possible each year you plan to attend school.

As a returning MAP recipient, you will be notified of a priority date for MAP. If you file your FAFSA or Alternative Application by that date and continue to be eligible for MAP, you will receive an award, as long as the state has appropriated sufficient funding for that year.

When will we know the MAP priority date?

Each year, before October 1st, ISAC announces the priority date. Students can begin filing the FAFSA or Alternative Application on October 1st of each calendar year preceding the year they plan to attend college.

ISAC will post the priority date on our website and we also expect that returning MAP recipients will be notified by their colleges of the MAP priority date before the FAFSA becomes available on October 1st.

What if I don’t get my FAFSA or Alternative Application in by the priority date? 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 or Alternative Application filed as soon as possible after that date. If you file your application after the priority date, 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 application. Returning students who received MAP in the prior academic year, who file their applications by the priority date, and who remain eligible for MAP will get priority access to funds in the event of a funding shortfall. If you file after that date, you could still receive a MAP grant if sufficient funding is still available. The longer you wait to file your application after the priority date, the less likely that you will get a MAP grant.