SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In 2009, an estimated 130,000 eligible Illinois college students missed out on state financial aid by not completing the required Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) soon enough. For this new year, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) recommends getting an early start on the college financial aid process with early FAFSA completion.
For families with older children entering college or already enrolled, ISAC recommends completing the FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible. That’s because the U.S. Department of Education begins accepting FAFSAs on January 1, 2010 for the 2010-11 school year. The FAFSA is available online (www.fafsa.ed.gov) or in paper form, and in Spanish.
“Much of the information required for FAFSA completion comes from individual income tax returns, so combine the two projects,” Davis continued. “The ‘do-it-yourself’ process takes about an hour. If you need help, ISAC College Zone counselors are available by calling 800-899-4722, or visit our Web site at CollegeZone.com to find a calendar of upcoming FAFSA completion workshops. We’re here to help.”
By completing a FAFSA, students may be eligible for over $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’ $400 million Monetary Award Program (MAP).
“Next to a marriage license, the FAFSA may be the most important form you ever complete,” continued Davis. “The FAFSA determines eligibility for grants, scholarships, loans and work-study programs and is the essential first step in receiving college financial aid. Make a resolution that’s easy to keep and could pay huge dividends: complete your FAFSA early!”
Originally formed as the Illinois State Scholarship Commission in 1957, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission provides students of all ages and backgrounds with the resources and support to obtain financial aid for higher education. A state agency, ISAC has paved the path to post-secondary education with innovative programs for over 50 years.
The Commission provides educational funding with student loans, as a loan guarantor and via numerous public programs such as the Monetary Award Program, the Illinois Veteran Grant and the College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid Tuition Program. Last year alone, ISAC continued its mission to make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students by issuing 186,000 grants and scholarships totaling nearly $431 million. Students and families have free access to a wealth of financial aid and college planning information at ISAC’s family of websites available at www.knowhow2GOIllinois.org.