Financial Aid Planning
Completing the FAFSA®
The first step in the financial aid process is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). This application, which is available to complete online via desktop and laptop computers, mobile devices*, or in paper/PDF format**, will use income, assets and other factors to determine the amount you and your family are expected to contribute to your college expenses. You must submit the FAFSA in order to be considered for all federal financial aid programs (including student loans), most programs through your college and most state programs, including the State of Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant. Most of the questions are demographic-related and the rest of the answers come from your tax forms and/or those of your parents (if you’re a dependent student) or your spouse (if you are married). Beginning with the 2024-25 academic year, all FAFSA contributors (including the student) must provide consent and approval to have their federal tax information transferred from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) into the FAFSA form via direct data exchange – even if the contributor didn't file a tax return. If the student or another contributor does not provide consent and approval, the student will not be eligible for federal student aid. Federal Student Aid's Is My Parent a Contributor When I Fill Out My FAFSA Form? document provides guidance regarding which parent(s) should report information on a dependent student's 2024-25 FAFSA.
If you file an online FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year, you can list as many as twenty different colleges that you may be attending and have information sent to them (only ten colleges can be listed on the paper/PDF FAFSA). Your eligibility for financial aid will be determined by your and your family’s financial situation, and by filing your application on time.
If you are an Illinois student who is not eligible for federal financial aid (and do not file the FAFSA), you may apply for a MAP grant using the online Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, which is patterned after the FAFSA. For more information, visit the Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act page of this website, and talk with your high school counselor or the financial aid office at your college or university.
Students with questions about FAFSA completion can contact their local ISACorps member, send a text message to the ISAC College Q & A service, or contact an ISAC Call Center Representative. Students with general questions regarding the financial aid application process may also have a real-time conversation with a Call Center Representative by simply clicking on the "Live Support – Online" button, which appears in the right margin of all pages within the During College and After College sections of the Students & Parents area.
Find out more about Completing the FAFSA.
* StudentAid.gov is mobile-responsive and the FAFSA may be completed using a mobile device.
** Federal Student Aid anticipates starting to fully process 2024-25 paper/PDF FAFSAs in the weeks following online FAFSA results being transmitted to schools and state agencies, which is anticipated to begin in the first half of March 2024.
Attend a FAFSA Completion Workshop
Even though the FAFSA Simplification Act resulted in significant changes to streamline the 2024-25 FAFSA, students and their families may have questions regarding the application process. In addition to the specific instructions on how to complete the FAFSA available on the Filling Out the FAFSA page of Federal Student Aid’s StudentAid.gov, the ISACorps provides free workshops to help you complete the FAFSA.
To find an in-person event closest to you and to view a list of virtual events, please visit the Events page at the ISAC Student Portal. In-person events will be conducted in accordance with state and local health guidelines. Advance registration may be required for online events.
Get One-on-One Assistance with Financial Aid
The ISACorps member in your region is available to meet with you and your family to help you learn more about your financial aid options and apply for aid. Our ISACorps members are trained to not only help you fill out the FAFSA, but also to help you identify scholarships and grants for which you might be eligible, explain student loans and financial aid packages, and help provide the information and resources so you can make informed financial decisions when it comes to paying for college.
Get in touch with the ISACorps member in your region.