MAP grant may deplete faster
November 22, 2013
There is one thing on every student’s mind come Jan. 1: the start of the 2014-2015 FAFSA application. If this isn’t on every student’s mind, it certainly should be, according to Jayne Schreck, Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid. Filling out the FAFSA is highlighted when students are in high school looking forward to college, but some forget that it’s a process that must be repeated every year.
“In the state of Illinois, funding is on a first-come-first-served basis,” said Schreck of Illinois’ funding policy. This is especially important for students who receive the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP). According to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the MAP grant is a type of financial aid provided by the state that does not need to be repaid. The grant has several eligibility requirements, such as being an Illinois resident and attending an approved Illinois college. “The Illinois MAP grant is over $4,700, so if you miss the deadline and simply don’t file your FAFSA in time, you’re just out that $4,700.”
Because Illinois operates on a first-come-first-served funding basis, there is no exact deadline for when the MAP grants will run out. It all depends on how many people are eligible for the MAP grant and how many people are filing a FAFSA. This means that there is no way to predict when the money will run out or when the deadline will be. “It has been getting earlier and earlier each year,” said Schreck. Last year, the date the state stopped considered FAFSA applications for this funding occurred on March 2. This year, the deadline is expected to be sometime in February.
Students are encouraged to file their FAFSA as close to Jan. 1 as possible. “There is a myth that you cannot file your FAFSA until your taxes are done,” explains Schreck. “You can and should file your FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible… Use last year’s tax information and indicate that you’re estimating, that you haven’t completed your taxes but will be.” By estimating on your FAFSA, you are essentially saving a space for possible MAP grant funding. Even if you wait until March to update your FAFSA with the corrected tax information, you can still be eligible for a MAP grant because you initially filled out the document before the deadline.
Students are reminded that situations and funding changes from year to year. It is imperative that all students work to get their FAFSA filled out as soon as possible.