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Want A MAP Grant? Hurry. Timeline For Student Aid Has Moved Up

Screen shot of the U.S. government's FAFSA student aid application website

Low-income university students had until early March this year to fill out a form that allowed them to take advantage of Illinois' primary financial aid program.

Incoming and continuing college students can't wait that long if they hope to receive a "MAP grant" for the next school year.

That form, known as the FAFSA (short for the Free Application For Federal Student Aid) came out early this year, at the start of October, Which means the deadline has moved up for everyone.

There's another reason to get the forms in quickly.

Lynne Baker, with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, says MAP grants are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"There is absolutely more need than funding available; that's been that way for about a decade now. So file those FAFSAs as soon as possible," she says.

In previous years, Illinois has only had enough money to give MAP grants to eligible students who submitted a FAFSA within the first couple of months after it was put out; anyone who submitted it after the cut-off date was likely turned away.

Without a full state budget, Illinois lawmakers haven't actually approved spending any money on MAP grants for the 2017 school year. But the student assistance commission has, and is, going forward as if the program will continue at regular levels. Partisan battles meant that the last round of MAP funding was help up for about ten months.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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