Monday, February 18, 2013
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175+ financial aid awareness and assistance events for students and families across Illinois

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[February 18, 2013]  DEERFIELD -- Gov. Pat Quinn has proclaimed February as Financial Aid Awareness Month in Illinois and encourages students and families to take full advantage of the college preparation and planning resources available in their communities.

To help students and families increase their financial aid literacy, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission is hosting nearly 200 events across the state to offer help in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, and to provide opportunities to learn about the wide range of college financial aid opportunities and the college selection and admission process.

Nearby sites include Champaign, Decatur, East Peoria, Farmer City, Havana and Normal. A calendar of all events, updated daily, is available at

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission notes that there are several sources for non-loan grant aid -- assistance that does not need to be repaid. The Monetary Award Program is Illinois' large-scale grant program. For over 50 years, the program has helped Illinoisans pay for tuition and fees at Illinois colleges and universities. MAP grants are awarded based on financial need, using information collected on the FAFSA.

ISAC cautions that this year, more Illinois students are filing the FAFSA early, and that will likely result in the depletion of projected MAP grant funds earlier than ever before. In 2012, students filing a FAFSA after April 2, even if fully qualified, were unable to receive a grant as funding had already been exhausted.

According to ISAC, even if a MAP grant is not available, many undergraduate students may qualify for a federal Pell Grant, which can provide up to $5,645 for students attending a Pell-eligible institution full time. Pell plays an important role in the total student financial aid picture. Last year, Illinois students received nearly $1.3 billion in Pell grants, an amount nearly four times as great as MAP.

ISAC notes that the FAFSA is the key. Without one, the opportunities for non-institutional financial assistance are reduced greatly.

Information on the number of FAFSAs received, as well as the dollar amount of projected MAP and Pell grants, is posted on the ISAC website and updated regularly.

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The mission of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, established in 1957, is to help make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students. Best known for the Monetary Award Program, the agency administers most of the state's need-based financial aid programs that target students seeking postsecondary education. Since 1957, the commission has provided more than $9.1 billion in grants, scholarships and non-loan aid and has made more than 4.8 million awards to Illinois students and families.

In addition, ISAC delivers outreach programs and services to students and education professionals throughout Illinois. Key outreach services are provided by the nationally recognized ISACorps, a community-based team of about 85 recent college graduates who mentor students and work with families to help them make well-informed decisions about how to prepare for, pay for and attend college. In 2012, ISAC's College Access & Outreach Staff led, conducted or assisted with over 4,000 events attended by over 120,000 people.

ISAC also administers College Illinois, the state's prepaid tuition program, which has paid out more than $400 million in tuition and fees on behalf of over 25,000 students.

[Text from Illinois Student Assistance Commission file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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