FAFSA Update

Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Seniors: Did You Know the FAFSA is Now a Graduation Requirement in Illinois?

Beginning with the 2020-21 academic year, P. A. 101-180 requires all Illinois public high school students to complete either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid (Alternative Application) as a prerequisite to receiving a high school diploma. Additionally, high schools are expected to provide students and their families with any support or guidance necessary to comply with the requirement. For students who choose not to file an application, a waiver may be completed by their parent. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) makes available through their website a FAFSA Nonparticipation Form (English and Spanish) for this purpose.

What is FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the online application that allows a student to apply simultaneously for federal student aid (including the Pell Grant, work-study opportunities, and federal student loans) and the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant. Many colleges and universities use it for their aid programs, too.

What Do You Need to Complete the FAFSA?

  • Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number
  • Tax return and other records of income and assets
  • Driver’s license number, if you have one
  • Date of birth
  • Month and year of marriage, separation, divorce or other change in marital status
  • List of colleges (up to 10) you are interested in attending

Complete the FAFSA

In preparation for filling out the FAFSA application, students and parents should create their FSA ID. Click this link to create your FSA ID.

Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by clicking this link www.fafsa.gov

Understanding the FAFSA --Sallie Mae resource that reviews general information about the FAFSA.

Need Help Completing the FAFSA

Questions about financial aid? Get answers directly from ISAC’s experts sent to your phone. Text your name to 630-216-4910.

Please direct your financial aid questions to our ISAC Representative Lauren Waitt, lauren.waitt@illinois.gov or 630-870-9553.

ECC Financial Aid Office Will Help You Too

Did you know that ECC’s financial aid office will assist you to complete your FAFSA even if you are not enrolled? The Financial Aid Office is located in Building B, room B156.

Monday through Thursday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fax: 847-608-5460

Does my family make too much money to benefit from the FAFSA?

Financial aid is left on the table every year by students who didn’t apply because they erroneously thought they were ineligible. You really don’t know until you apply! Income and assets are factors in determining your eligibility, but so are things like the number of students in the family who are in school and the age of the parent(s). For students from families that do make too much to qualify for need based grant aid, the FAFSA can still be helpful, since it’s needed for work-study, an AIM HIGH grant from one of Illinois' public universities, or a federal student loan (usually at competitive rates and with more borrower protections than private loans, including options for income-based repayment and forgiveness programs for some careers). Your college may offer aid based on your FAFSA info too, and your eligibility may be different depending on your school. Additionally, some scholarship programs use information from the FAFSA as part of the application process. As most financial aid is awarded in date order based on FAFSA filing date, it is a very good idea to complete the FAFSA as early as possible. This “place in line” can be used for opportunities that come up later, and also can be used if family financial circumstances suddenly change.

FAFSA can benefit students interested in technical, trade, and vocational programs as well

The FAFSA isn’t just for associate’s or bachelor’s degree programs! Students can receive need-based Pell grants, federal student loans, and other federal student aid for technical, trade, and vocational programs at community colleges and at many other schools and training programs. Students can check with the school they want to attend or use the federal government’s online College Navigator tool to find out which institutions participate in the programs: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/

What if I don't want a student loan?

Filing the application doesn’t commit you to anything. You’ll just find out whether you might be eligible for aid!

The 7 Costly FAFSA Mistakes

Every year families nervously await and often postpone filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some skip the ordeal entirely because they think it’s a waste of time and only a fast track to federal student loans. However, the FAFSA package also includes college scholarships and grants. Not filling it out is one of many costly FAFSA mistakes and can result in families losing money that could have helped them pay for college. Click the link for the full article.

The FAFSA Opens Oct. 1-And it's More Important Than Ever to Complete it ASAP

CNBC Make It – September 29, 2020
While the share of families filing the FAFSA has been decreasing in recent years, the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is expected to lead to an increased need for financial support. Schools often distribute student aid funds on a first-come, first-serve basis in order of when students complete the financial aid applications, and this year it will be more important than ever that students complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Full Article.

Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid

The Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act allows eligible undocumented students and transgender students who are disqualified from federal financial aid to apply for all forms of state financial aid. The Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid provides a pathway for these qualified students to apply for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, the state's largest need-based grant program for low-income college students.

Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid FAQ

Alternative Application User Guide

FAFSA Nonparticipation Forms

As stated above, for students who choose not to file an application, a waiver may be completed by their parent. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) makes available through their website a FAFSA Nonparticipation Form (English and Spanish) for this purpose.

Nonparticipation Form-English

Nonparticipation Form-Spanish

St. Charles North-Office of College and Career Readiness