JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Priority Access for Returning MAP Recipients

Here’s what you need to know

Returning Monetary Award Program (MAP) recipients now have more certainty about the MAP grants in their financial aid packages, beginning with the 2020-21 academic year. Filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) on or before a date established each year will provide priority access to appropriated MAP funds for these students.

ISAC is providing answers to any questions students have about what this might mean for them.

What exactly does this new provision do?

It provides priority access for returning students who received a MAP grant in the prior academic year, beginning with the 2020-21 school year. If the returning student completes the FAFSA each year by the priority deadline date (which ISAC publicizes in advance) and is still eligible for MAP, they will receive a MAP grant. Please note, however, that all MAP funds are and will continue to be subject to annual appropriation by the General Assembly.

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 2019-20 academic year and plan to attend college in 2020-21, you will need to file your FAFSA no later than December 1, 2019 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 FAFSA 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 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 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 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 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, 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 MAP recipient, you will be notified of a priority date for MAP. If you file your FAFSA 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 on October 1st of each calendar year preceding the year they plan to attend college.

Returning MAP recipients who will be filing their FAFSAs beginning October 1st each year will be notified of the priority date. 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 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 filed as soon as possible after that date. If you file your FAFSA 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 FAFSA. Returning students who received MAP in the prior academic year, who file their FAFSAs 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 FAFSA after the priority date, the less likely that you will get a MAP grant.