The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is suspending the announcement of 2015-16 Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for applicants (except dislocated workers*) whose initial 2015-16 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is received by the Central Processing System (CPS) on or after Sunday, February 22, 2015.
Students are encouraged to complete their FAFSAs within the next 24 hours to make sure they are considered for award eligibility.
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.
Beginning when FAFSA filing commences in January, ISAC staff monitors and analyzes MAP application volume and projected claim rates. This year’s initial suspense date is the earliest in the program’s history, due in part to earlier FAFSA filing by prospective students, as well as a funding reserve set aside for a new program for dislocated workers (see below).
Notably, Governor Bruce Rauner has requested flat funding for MAP in his introduced budget. The General Assembly will begin holding appropriations hearings next week, and it is unknown at this time how similar the final fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget will be to the governor’s proposal. ISAC staff will continue to monitor the FY16 budget situation, along with MAP application volume and claim rates. If future analysis indicates that a partial release of awards from suspense status is viable, we will communicate that information to the financial aid community as it becomes available.