Financial Aid Information

The following information is designed to assist you in the financial aid process as you prepare for post-secondary education. For further assistance, please contact your counselor.
 
HOW MUCH WILL COLLEGE COST?
College costs include tuition, books/supplies, room/board, transportation, and personal expenses. Costs may also include a "reasonable allowance for the documented rental or purchase of a personal computer".

College costs vary by school. To find the cost of attending a specific college, refer t
  • the college catalog
  • the Career Cruising website at www.careercruising.com,and other Internet websites
  • the financial aid office or website at the school of your choice.
EXAMPLES
 
Community
College
 
Public
University
 
Private
College
Tuition
 
$2,272
 
$5,836
 
$22,218
Books/Supplies
 
$ 1,260
 
$ 1,260
 
$ 1,260
Room/Board
 
$3,700
 
$6,000
 
$ 7,000
Transportation
 
$2,500
 
$1,000
 
$ 1,200
Personal Expenses
 
$1,800
 
$2,500
 
$ 2,500
Total
 
$12,294
 
$16,357
 
$33,301
 
SOURCES OF FINANCIAL AID

Student and parents
- The primary responsibility to fund a student’s education after high school lies with the student and parents. Financial aid is the bridge between the family’s ability to pay for postsecondary education and the costs of a college education. The national trend is toward less gift aid (grants and scholarships) and more self-help aid (loans and work-study).

Scholarships from the college
- These are "merit" based and students receive such scholarships because of their outstanding qualities, i.e., academic record and test scores, leadership, athletic ability, musical talent, etc. Check with the school’s financial aid office.

Scholarships from private sources
– These may be based on merit, need, nationality, religion, choice of major, essay, etc. Private sources may include religious organizations, employers, foundations, athletic clubs, service organizations, etc. Check out the LP Scholarship Information on the Guidance and Counseling Website. 

NOTE: All private scholarships must be reported to the college’s financial aid office and your award package will be modified accordingly. Usually, loans, institutional grants or work-study will be reduced by the total dollar amount of your private scholarships. This modification is necessary because you are not allowed to receive more financial aid than the amount of your "need".

Grants, loans, work-study programs
- These are "need" based (based on the family’s ability to pay) and are awarded for one year at a time from federal, state, and college funds. It is necessary to apply on an annual basis.
 
DETERMINING FINANCIAL”NEED”

A family’s "ability to pay" is computed using information about the student’s income and assets, as well as the parents’ income and assets, for the most recent tax year. The financial information supplied by the family is placed into a formula and the end result is a number known as the "EFC" or "Expected Family Contribution". The formula is determined by the US Congress and the same formula is used for every student that applies for financial aid. The EFC will be the same amount for every school the student is considering. 

Estimates of the EFC may be obtained for any student. Some colleges offer free estimates through their financial aid offices. You can obtain a free estimate at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s Internet web site at www.collegezone.com Anyone may receive an estimate, but you SHOULD NOT actually apply for aid until January 1 of the year before attending college.

FINANCIAL NEED EQUALS THE COST OF ATTENDING A SCHOOL MINUS THE EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION (EFC)

Here is an example for a student with an EFC of $3,000:
 
Community
College
Public
University
Private
College
Total Cost
$12,294
  $16,357
$33,301
Minus EFC
-3,000
-3,000
-3,000
Equals NEED
$8,678
$14,760
$31,960

For a student with an EFC of $8,000:
 
Community
College
Public
University
Private
College
Total Cost
$12,294
$16,357
 $33,301
Minus EFC
-8,000
-8,000
-8,000
Equals NEED
$3,678
$9,760
$26,960
 
APPLYING FOR FINANCIAL AID

If this is the first time you are applying for aid, access the “FAFSA on the web” at www.fafsa.ed.gov, or pick up a paper copy of FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), available in English or Spanish. If you applied last year on-line, you may access and complete the renewal FAFSA on-line after requesting a PIN (personal identification number) that will be mailed to you and will remain active for 18 months. To request a PIN, go to www.pin.ed.gov. The renewal FAFSA’s have some of the information already filled in for you. Also, find out if your college(s) require the “CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE” or their own institution’s form. If so, fill these out and file them in addition to your FAFSA. Applications for the PROFILE are available at: https://profileonline.collegeboard.com and there is a processing fee.

Complete the appropriate sections of the FAFSA using the student’s and parent(s):
  • Federal tax forms
  • W-2 forms
  • untaxed income information 
  • current bank statements
  • asset information, including business, farm, stocks, bonds, etc., and
  • driver’s license and social security card
Special Notes for completing the FAFSA:

After using FAFSA on the Web, always close your browser.

Colleges usually have priority deadlines (between January and April) for financial aid applications.  The State of Illinois has priority consideration deadlines of September 30, for first-time applicants and August 15 for continuing students. It is best to use figures from completed tax returns when you fill out the FAFSA if you can still meet the college’s financial aid priority deadline. You may use estimated tax figures, but if you estimate incorrectly you will have to supply the accurate figures in a revision, which delays the aid process. Since aid is awarded first-come, first-served, if you miss the deadline you will be considered for financial aid only if money is still available.

Be sure to list your legal name as it appears on your social security card.

By filling out the FAFSA, the student is automatically applying for grants. In Section 1, questions ask whether the student also wants to apply for loans and work-study. We suggest you answer yes. You may later turn down loans and work-study without affecting other aid.

Section 1 also requires you to certify whether or not you have been convicted of an illegal drug offense. This does not include alcohol. For more information, phone 1-800-433-3243.

Students are considered to be either "dependent" or "independent". This determines which sections of the FAFSA need to be completed, as well as whether or not the parent(s)’ information must be reported. Dependent students whose parents are divorced or separated must report parent information for the parent with whom they live the majority of the year. If that parent has remarried, their spouse’s information must also be reported. The US Department of Education does not recognize prenuptial agreements involving step-parents.

You may list up to six schools to receive your FAFSA information. It is best to list the school code number(s) and complete name(s) of the college(s) - spelled out. DO NOT list the school address(es) unless you do not have the code number(s) because the address section causes a delay. The college code list is available on the Internet at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/fotw0506/fslookup.htm.

Be sure to list at least one Illinois school in order to enter the State’s Monetary Award Program (MAP).

Do not leave a field blank. If a question does not apply, enter "0".

FILE THE FAFSA BY USING ONE OF THREE FILING METHODS:
  1. File your FAFSA electronically using FAFSA on the Web (available in English and Spanish) at www.fafsa.ed.gov. (Most FAFSAs were filed electronically last year, and FAFSA will now pre-populate the FAFSA forms if you answer “yes” to having multiple students. You may save the application to the web site where it is held for 45 days. You should also save the application to a disk and/or make a printout in case of technical difficulties. FAFSA on the Web contains an option to provide your e-mail address, which allows automatic notification about the status of your latest transaction. Technical assistance for FAFSA on the Web is available at 1-800-801-0576 (TTY 1-800-511-5806). The FAFSA will include a FAFSA IRS MATCH that will compare the data you supply to IRS data, including:
    * Adjusted gross income
    * Taxes Paid
    * Total earnings from employment
    * Filing status
    * Type of tax form
If you file electronically, students and parents may use their PINs (personal identification numbers) as electronic signatures. Students and parents need separate PINs, however, a parent can use the same PIN for more than one student. PINs can be requested at www.pin.ed.gov and the PINs will be sent electronically to students and parents within 24-78 hours if an e-mail address is provided or in 7-10 days if mailed to your address. FAFSA users may also choose the verification question embedded in the application and possibly receive their PINs while still working online. Students and/or parents who do not have PINs may print a signature page and mail it to the address listed on the signature page.

When you file electronically, you will view a confirmation page, which you should print and keep.The electronic application checks for errors and inconsistencies while you are filling it out, so it is more likely to be correct on the first try. It also uses "skip logic", asking only those questions that apply to the particular student.

Applicants have instant access to an estimate of the EFC.All information is scrambled through a process called encryption, but security via Internet transmission cannot be 100% guaranteed. Only the last four digits of the social security numbers are now shown as the result of a recent security improvement.
  1. Mail the completed FAFSA to the processor in the envelope provided with the paper form as soon after January 1 of your senior year as possible. You may choose to send a return postcard with your paper FAFSA to be assured that your FAFSA was received. KEEP A COPY OF YOUR COMPLETED FAFSA! Do not mail copies of tax returns or any of the FAFSA worksheets, but keep them together, along with your photocopy of the completed FAFSA form. You will need them later to verify information.
  1. Have a college file the FAFSA electronically for you using EDExpress (electronic data exchange) software 
 
STUDENT AIDE REPORT

The processor will mail you a response or “federal output document”. If you use FAFSA on the Web or make changes using Corrections on the Web you will receive a “SAR Information Acknowledgement” in the mail within 7-14 days of signing electronically or mailing the signature page. (Those providing an e-mail address will receive a “SAR key” e-mail explaining how to access the SAR online. There has been some trouble with spam blockers, so those providing an e-mail address should add the site to their whitelist. If the email is undeliverable, a paper copy of the SAR key will be mailed.) If you file a paper FAFSA you will receive a “SAR” or “Student Aid Report” in about 4-6 weeks. If you file a paper FAFSA you may enter an email address to receive an electronic Student Aid Report. If you have a college file electronically for you, you will receive a “SAR Information Acknowledgement” within 2 weeks. Be sure to retain the federal output document. The document contains:
  • the amount of your EFC,
  • the student’s data release number (located on the lower left of the “SAR”), which protects the privacy of the student’s information and can be given to schools not listed on your FAFSA,
  • a report of your eligibility to receive a Federal PELL Grant,
  • instructions on what to do next,
  • a summary printout of the information you provided on your FAFSA. You must review the information to be sure it is correct, which is why you should keep a printout or disk with the information if you used the FAFSA on the Web, or make a copy of your completed FAFSA before you mail it. If the information is not correct, contact your financial aid office. They will either submit corrections for you electronically or tell you to follow the instructions for revision that are printed on the SAR or SAR Information Acknowledgement. NOTE: Electronic changes made by a college for you may not be available to other colleges you listed on the FAFSA. If this is the case, you should follow the instructions for revision that are printed on the SAR or the SAR Information Acknowledgement.
  • special instructions unique to specific colleges. For example, you may be told to send photocopies of completed tax forms, social security card, and/or birth certificate to a college. Tax forms are required if your application is selected for "verification", a process that makes sure information applicants report is accurate. About 1/3 of FAFSA applications are randomly selected for verification.
THE FINANCIAL AID PACKAGE
The colleges that receive your SAR information will try to set up a "package" of aid that will cover your "need". The package could include:
  • Federal PELL Grant, which does not have to be repaid.
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG), which does not have to be repaid,
  • Illinois MAP Grant, which does not have to repaid,
  • College Grant which does not have to be repaid,
  • Federal Work-Study (at least minimum wage), and/or
  • Student Loans which must be repaid: Federal Perkins Loan based on need, with a 5% fixed interest rate and Subsidized (need based) or unsubsidized (not need based) Stafford Loans through either the William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loan Program, which is funded by the Federal Government, or the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which is funded by private lenders such as banks, savings and loans, or credit unions. Stafford Loans have a current interest rate of 6.8%.
Each college will send you an "award letter" listing the types and amounts of aid they are offering to you. Since each school has their own individual philosophy about awarding aid, the offers may be very different. Compare them carefully for the bottom line: a) out-of-pocket cost or unmet need, b) amount of loans, and c) percentage of need met.
You must accept or decline the offer in writing by the deadline listed on the award letter. You may request an extension of the deadline (in writing) if you have not received "award letters" from each of your schools.


OTHER LOAN SOURCES
  • Federal PLUS Loans (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) are available if parents want to borrow and repay. PLUS Loans have a variable interest rate capped at 9%. The rate was 8.5% in 2006. Parents may borrow an amount up to the cost of attendance minus financial aid.
  • Unsubsidized (not need based) Stafford Loans may be available if the student wants to borrow and repay.
  • If you have unusual circumstances affecting your EFC, discuss them with the financial aid administrator of the college.
  • Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit
  • Private loan programs (also known as alternative loan programs)
  • Insurance policies
  • IRA withdrawals to pay qualified higher education expenses - not subject to the 10% early withdrawal tax, but are subject to federal income tax on the amount withdrawn.
OTHER FEDERAL OR STATE PROGRAMS
Federal
  • ROTC - Reserve Officer Training Corps (military)
  • Montgomery GI Bill - education benefits for active duty or reserve military service.
  • AmeriCorps, a National and Community Service Program - education awards in exchange for work. For information call 1-800-942-2677 or go to www.americorps.org or www.cns.gov.
  • HOPE Scholarship - a tax credit worth up to $1,650 per student, available to first and second year students enrolled at least half-time. For information go to www.irs.ustreas.gov.
  • Lifetime Learning Credit - tax credit up to $2,000 (equal to 20% of the first $10,000 of a family's tuition expenses) for virtually any post-secondary education and training. For information go to www.irs.ustreas.gov.
  • Academic Achievement Incentive Scholarships - for any student in the top 10% of their high school graduating class who is eligible for a PELL grant. Good for the first two years of study and equals the amount of the PELL, not to exceed the cost of attendance.
  • Student Loan Interest Tax Deduction - $2,500 per year.
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account - may deposit up to $23,000 per year for a child under age 18.
  • Sallie Mae Fund – Details on the following four programs may be found at www.thesalliemaefund.org/projectaccess/need.html.
  • 911 Education Fund – provides education loan relief and scholarships for families of victims of the recent terrorist attacks.
  • First in My Family Program – scholarships of $500-$5,000 for students of Hispanic-American descent that are the first member of the family to attend an accredited U.S. college or university.
  • Unmet Need Scholarships – for students with unmet need of at least $1,000, adjusted gross income of less than $30,000, and a cumulative grade-point-average between 2.5 and 3.0 on a 4-point scale.
  • American Dream Scholarship – scholarships for African-American students with at least a 2.5 cumulative grade-point-average.
  • NOTE: There are programs that allow the student to cancel loan repayment for public service. Examples of public service include teaching in an elementary or high school serving low-income families, teaching in a teacher shortage area, law enforcement or corrections officer, nurse or medical technician. For information go to www.ed.gov.
State (* indicates online applications available at www.collegezone.com)
  • College Illinois! - Prepaid tuition program - allows families to purchase prepaid tuition contracts that are guaranteed to cover the future cost of tuition and mandatory fees at Illinois public universities and community colleges. The program also allows benefits to be used at private, as well as out-of-state colleges and universities, but does not guarantee payment of full tuition and fees at these schools. Contracts may be purchased in term increments with monthly payment options or payable in lump-sum. Earnings are exempt from federal and state income tax benefits. The enrollment window for newborns opens October 29, 2007 and closes on August 1, 2008, and prices reflect college costs for the 2007-2008 school year. For more information go t www.collegeillinois.com or phone (877) 877-3724
  • Illinois College Accounts Network (ICAN) Savings Plan - Information is available by calling 1-800-242-ICAN. It requires a small initial investment, is tax exempt, and allows emergency fund access.
  • Illinois College Savings Bonds - Zero coupon bonds usually issued once per year in the fall. Proceeds are exempt from federal and Illinois income tax and can be used at colleges and universities in any state. Consult your bank, investment firm, or financial advisor for more information. Bonds mature between two and twenty-one years from date of purchase.
  • Merit Recognition Scholarship (MRS) - One-time $1,000 awards to high school seniors in the top 4-5% after 7 semesters. Must enroll at least half-time in an Illinois college/university or a national service academy. Not need based. No application is required because counselors send names of eligible students to the state. This award is subject to funding by the Illinois General Assembly.
  • *Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship -Up to $5,000 per year for minority college students, college students seeking teacher certification, seeking teacher certification. Must teach in an Illinois school with at least 30% minority enrollment one year for every year of assistance received or repay with interest.
  • *Illinois Future Teacher Corps - For academically talented and financially needy students who are college juniors or above, with a priority given to individuals pursuing a teacher shortage discipline and/or making a commitment to teach at a hard-to-staff school, and minority students. Awards $5,000 to $10,000.
  • Special Education Tuition Waivers - Four-year tuition scholarships at Illinois state-supported colleges/universities. Must agree to teach 2 of first 5 years in Special Education in Illinois public schools.
  •  Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program - a federal program administered by the state. Student must have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement. Awards $1,500 per year, renewable for up to 4 years. No application is required because counselors send names of eligible students to the state.
  • Silas Purnell Illinois Incentive for Access Program - A one-time grant up to $500 awarded to freshmen who have a zero EFC.
  • *Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) - Student must have served at least one year of active duty and be honorably discharged.
  • *Illinois National Guard Grant - Student must have been active in the Illinois National Guard for at least 5 consecutive years and have been called to federal active duty for at least 6 months and be within 12 months of discharge date, currently be on active duty status.
  • Police/Fire/Correctional Officer Survivor Grant - For surviving spouse or children of Illinois police or fire or correctional personnel killed or 90% permanently disabled in the line of duty.
  • *Bonus Incentive Grant (BIG) - Financial incentive for use of Illinois College Savings Bond proceeds at Illinois colleges or universities.
  • General Assembly Scholarships - Tuition scholarships that may be used at Illinois state-supported colleges and universities. Secure applications from state representative and senator or Counseling Office or contact the Illinois State Board of Education at 217-782-7913.
  • MIA/POW Scholarship - Provides tuition and mandatory fees at Illinois state-supported colleges/universities for dependents of veterans or service persons declared to be prisoners-of-war, missing in action, deceased or 100% disabled as a result of service-connected cause, and who were Illinois residents at the time of entry into active duty. Contact the Office of Veterans’ Affairs at 217-782-3564.
  •  Department of Rehabilitation Services Education Benefits - Financial assistance for individuals with physical or mental disabilities to attend accredited Illinois colleges, universities, and technical schools. Contact their office at 800-843-6154, option 4.
  • Medical Student Scholarship Program - Tuition and mandatory fees and monthly stipend to students with need that are enrolled in an Illinois allopathic or osteopathic medical school. Recipients agree to work in identified physician shortage area in Illinois one year for each year of assistance received. Need based. More information is available at 217-782-1624.
  • Nursing Education Scholarship Program - Funds to assist Illinois citizens pursuing a certificate, associate degree, hospital-based diploma, or a baccalaureate degree in nursing. Recipients agree to employment as a practical or professional nurse in Illinois, or to monetary repayment. More information is available at (217) 782-1624.
  • Allied Health Care Professional Scholarship Program - Funds for up to two years to those studying to be nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certified nurse midwives. Recipients agree to practice full-time in a designated shortage area of Illinois one year for each year of scholarship funding or repay with interest. More information is available at (217) 782-1624.
NEED MORE INFORMATION?
Federal Student Aid Information Center - Callers may choose English or Spanish

Available seven days a week, 8:00 AM until Midnight, Eastern Time. Phone (800) 4FED AID (800-433-3243). Information for the hearing impaired is available TDD (800)-730-8913. Hearing-impaired students may also contact the Center by e-mail at sfamail@ncs.ed.gov.

Provides information about federal student aid programs, explains the aid application process, explains program requirements and payments, and mails out single copies of federal student aid publications. Visually-impaired students may request a "Student Aid Audio Guide". Web sites are designed for text-only access, which makes them accessible to individuals with screen readers. Braille copies of publications are also available.
Provides trained professionals that can explain how to answer questions on the FAFSA and look up school code numbers. They can access a student’s application after it is processed and explain how general program requirements apply to the student’s specific situation, how to make changes to the schools listed on an application, explain comments on the SAR and how to make corrections, and send out duplicate SAR’s. Have your name, social security number, birth date, and data release number (from the SAR) available.
 
CAUTION – PLEASE READ

Students convicted of a drug-related offense will not be eligible to receive federal grants, loans, or work-study money. The period of ineligibility ranges from one year (for a first offense involving possession of a controlled substance) to indefinite (for a second offense involving sale of a controlled substance). Students may regain eligibility sooner by completing a drug rehabilitation program. For more information phone 1-800-433-3243.

Information provided for the purpose of securing financial aid must be true and correct to the best of your knowledge. If you purposely give false or misleading information, you may be fined $20,000, sent to prison, or both. Your FAFSA income information may be verified with the IRS.
"In an electronic announcment dated July 13,2004, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued a warning regarding an individual or individuals calling students on the telephone and impersonating an ED staff member. The student is asked to provide bank account information so that the individual(s) can charge processing fees for "a program to replace student loans with an $8,000 grant." In reality, no such program exists, and students are not charged fees to receive Title IV Federal grants. Students and families should never provide bank account numbers, or any other financial or personal information, to an unknown, unsolicited caller." This quote is taken from www.collegezone.com.