Financial Aid urges early FAFSA completion

Photo of a stack of moneyIn the 2011-12 academic year, 86 percent of undergraduate students at Northern Illinois University received need-based financial aid in the form of state, federal and institutional grants.

However, hundreds of thousands of eligible Illinois college students missed out on state financial aid by not completing the required Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) soon enough.

The NIU Student Financial Aid Office recommends getting an early start on the college financial aid process with early FAFSA completion, as the U.S. Department of Education began accepting FAFSA forms for the 2013-14 school year on Jan. 1. The FAFSA is available online at www.fafsa.gov or in paper form and in Spanish. NIU’s school code is 001737.

“Besides your application for admission to NIU, the FAFSA is the single-most important item to complete during your college career,” said Rebecca Babel, director of Student Financial Aid. “Since some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it is imperative to submit as early as possible with estimates of your finances.”

FAFSA-Student-LoansBy completing a FAFSA, students could be eligible for more than $10,000 in federal and state financial aid, depending on the financial circumstances of the applicant. Federal aid can come in the form of Pell grants and federal student loans, which also require FAFSA submission, while state aid includes Illinois’ Monetary Award Program (MAP).

Additionally, students can be eligible for additional institutional aid from NIU in the form of grants and merit scholarships.

“Filling out the FAFSA is the essential first step in receiving college financial aid, and it determines eligibility for grants, scholarships, loans and work-study programs,” Babel said. “So take the time to complete your FAFSA early; it could pay huge dividends.”

Current and prospective students can get help completing the FAFSA by visiting the NIU Student Financial Aid Office website at www.niu.edu/fa or by speaking with a counselor by calling toll-free 1-800-892-3050. Additionally, the office hosts FAFSA completion events from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through the month of May.

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