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10:39 AM

Why Fill Out Your FAFSA?


Around this time each year, Governors State University’s teachers, administrators, and staff unite to remind students to fill out their FAFSA applications. But what's a FAFSA and why should I fill it out?

Here’s what Associate Director of Financial Aid Matthew Zarris had to say about one of the easiest ways to make college more affordable:

What is FAFSA?

Zarris: The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  It is an annual form that students and prospective students must complete to be considered for most sources of financial aid.

Why is it important for students and how can it benefit them? 

Zarris: The FAFSA is the most important piece of the Financial Aid “equation.” To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans, students need to complete the FAFSA. In addition, many states and colleges use the FAFSA information to determine eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use FAFSA information to determine eligibility.

How can students apply?

Zarris: Students apply for the FAFSA each year online at:

When should I apply?

Zarris:   The sooner students apply each year, the better. The earlier students complete the FAFSA, the more they increase their chances of being considered for certain sources of aid that may have limited funding.

Students should apply by Nov. 1 for the upcoming 2022-23 academic year. There are no national deadlines, but Illinois declares an arbitrary deadline each year to determine eligibility for the state Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grant. The deadline is set for Dec. 9.

What kinds of assistance are available?

Zarris: Pell and MAP grants do not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are federal monies awarded only to undergraduate students who display exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor's, graduate, or professional degree.

MAP grants are only available to state residents who attend approved Illinois colleges and demonstrate financial need. Great news for Jaguars: these grants are not limited to traditional college-aged students. If all eligibility requirements are met, adult and non-traditional students may also qualify. MAP grants can be applied only toward tuition and mandatory fees.

How can I find out more?

Zarris: The Office of Financial Aid has been hosting weekly FAFSA completion Workshops for students. Find out more about the next workshop here