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FAFSA Process

The FAFSA is used by U.S. citizens and permanent residents to apply for need-based aid (grants, loans, work-study). It will determine if you qualify for College, state and federal government funds.

Fall 2018 Priority Deadlines (2018-2019 FAFSA):

Illinois residents must submit the FAFSA by February 27, 2018 to be considered for the Illinois MAP Grant. Late applications will not receive State grant funds, so don’t delay!

Non-IL priority dates: new students should submit the FAFSA by January 1, 2018; returning students by February 1. Late applications are accepted.

We recommend that you complete the FAFSA …
  • if cost will be factor in your enrollment
  • even if you do not think you will qualify
  • even if have not yet been admitted to a College.
  • even if you have not completed your tax return 

** About the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) **

The Internal Revenue Service has made the Data Retrieval Tool available for the 2018-2019 FAFSA with new encryption measures
Follow these step-by-step help video or pdf
Having problems? The DRT cannot be used if…

  • General Notes about the FAFSA:

    • The web address is www.fafsa.gov .
    • Our Federal School Code is 001706.
    • The FAFSA is not required if you are applying only for scholarships.
    • Applications received late will be accepted, but available funding may be less.

The Process:
  • Be sure to review the “Helpful Tools” section in the right column to the right.
  • Go to www.fafsa.gov and log in. 
  • Choose 2018-2019 to receive funds from August 2018 to July 2019
  • Choose 2017-2018 to receive funds from August 2017 to July 2018
  • Do not leave any question blank unless instructed to do so. If you have nothing to report for a financial question, enter $0.    
  • Questions with “you” or “your” always refer to the student applying for financial aid.
  • Review other common mistakes
  • Step 5 – Financial Information: this step tends to have more questions and/or errors, so we encourage you to watch this video clip (8 minutes)  or view this .pdf to help insure proper completion. 
  • NOTE: The 2018-2019 FAFSA asks for 2016 income values!
    If your 2016 tax return is not completed, make your best estimate of all figures, and correct the FAFSA with actual values once your tax return is done. (The 2017-2018 FAFSA asks for 2015 values.)
  • Sign the FAFSA with the FSA ID (student / parent each needs one).
  • You must click “Submit My FAFSA Now.” Print the confirmation page. If you don’t see a confirmation page, your FAFSA has not been submitted.

What Happens Next:
  • The federal student aid processing center will send an email confirming that your FAFSA was received, and then, a few days later, an email will tell you that your FAFSA has been processed. The second email will provide a link to a “Student Aid Report” (SAR) which summarizes your application. Review this for accuracy and make any necessary corrections. 
  • Did you (or your parent) not sign the FAFSA? Click here
  • Create a file folder to keep all financial aid documents (ID #s, FSA IDs, confirmation pages, SAR, etc.).
  • Our office will receive your FAFSA results two days after it is processed.
  • If the initial FAFSA you submitted included estimated values, correct those values after your / your parents’ tax return is completed (see “Data Retrieval Tool” under Helpful Tools in the right column).
  • If you have been admitted to the College, we will prepare a statement showing all financial aid you qualify to receive. This Award Letter” is sent by email to you and your parent, and also by regular mail. Be sure to review the page “How to Read Your Award Letter” for details!
  • Provide any documentation we require, listed in Part 4 (pg 2) of the award letter. Many are found here. Most can be scanned/emailed, faxed or mailed. See “Contact” in the column on the right.
  • Watch a video summary of “what happens next.”

Need Help With Your FAFSA?
  • Use the online help available from each page of the FAFSA site
  • Federal Student Aid Info Center 800-433-3243 / 319-337-5665
  • Review the links under “Helpful Tools” in the column on the right
  • Call the Office of Financial Aid 800-828-4751 or 847-735-5010