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Need Help With College Funds? File Your FAFSA Now!


Illinois hasn't set aside any money to pay for the Monetary Award Program grants that help lower-income students go to college, but students still should hurry to fill out financial aid forms. 

That’s because some financial aid is awarded on more than just the basis of need.

Lynne Baker, with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, says students need to submit the Free Application For Federal Student Aid – known as FAFSA -- to qualify for state programs too. That form can becompleted online.

Promptness is important, she says, because Illinois doesn't have enough money to give MAP grants to everyone eligible and applications are considered in the order they are received.

"There is absolutely more need than funding available,” Baker said. “That's been that way for about a decade now. So file those FAFSAs as soon as possible."

The second reason: In addition, the FAFSA came out early this year, on Oct. 1, which means the deadline has moved up for everyone.

Low-income university students had until early March this year to submit a FAFSA. But they can't wait that long if they hope to receive a "MAP grant" for the 2017-18 school year. 

Baker says Illinois is going forward with the MAP program, even though the continuing partisan feud in Springfield means lawmakers haven't approved funding it yet. 

Without a full state budget, Illinois lawmakers haven't actually approved spending any money on MAP grants for the 2017 school year. Partisan battles meant that the last round of MAP funding was help up for about ten months.   

But the student assistance commission is going forward as if the program will continue at regular levels. 

  • Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.
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