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 (preferred method) – including mobile-friendly options – or in paper 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). If you file the FAFSA online (FAFSA on the Web), you can list as many as ten different colleges that you may be attending and have information sent to them (only four colleges can be listed on the paper 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 Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act application. For more information, visit the RISE Act page of this website, and talk with your high school counselor or the financial aid office at your college or university. Note that the RISE Act application – which is patterned after the FAFSA – will be available on January 1, 2020 for the 2020-21 academic year for students who meet the definition of “Illinois resident” as it applies to the RISE Act.
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.
Attend a FAFSA Completion Workshop
For many students and families who have never completed a FAFSA, the form can seem a little overwhelming. 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 across the state to help you complete the FAFSA. Check out the Outreach Event Calendar to find a workshop in your area and make sure you know what to bring to a FAFSA Completion Workshop.
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.