A major auto insurance company advertises that taking 15 minutes could save 15 percent. Now, the Northern Illinois University Student Financial Aid Office offers similar advice with an even greater potential payoff.
By filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), eligible students will lock in their Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant dollars for the next school year before awards are suspended.
“Take 20 minutes to lock in your MAP grant for next school year by filing your FAFSA,” says Director of Student Financial Aid Rebecca Babel. “While we typically encourage students to file their taxes before their FAFSA, due to increased demand at the state level, we’re encouraging students to file their FAFSAs now and marking applications as ‘will file taxes.’ ”
MAP provides grants, which do not need to be repaid, to Illinois residents who attend approved Illinois colleges and demonstrate financial need, based on the information provided on the FAFSA. The grants, which range from $300 to $4,720, can be applied only toward tuition and mandatory fees.
Submitting a FAFSA could also qualify students for additional federal student aid, such as Pell grants, which could provide as much as $5,645 in grant aid.
The process can be done online at https://fafsa.ed.gov/ and takes approximately 20 minutes by marking “will file.” Students will have to return to revise their FAFSA data after they have filed their taxes, but marking as “will file” will lock in those eligible for MAP next school year.
MAP grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and the demand far outweighs the state’s financial resources. Last year, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission dispersed 135,000 MAP grants for students across the state. However, 165,000 MAP-eligible students missed out by filing a FAFSA after funds ran out.