Applying for Financial Aid

Students should apply for financial aid using the  (FAFSA ). Some aid, such as the State of Illinois MAP grant, have limited funds. Students who apply early have a much better chance of obtaining all the assistance for which they might be eligible. You may also visit the Office of Financial Aid in the Student Success Center to receive assistance completing your FAFSA.

Before You Apply

  • Make sure you have completed the √»√√ ”∆Ķ¬†admission form.
  • Set up a Federal Student Aid ID online at¬†¬†so that you can electronically sign your FAFSA
  • If you are providing parent information, one of your parents must also sign the FAFSA. To sign electronically, your parent will need an FSA ID.
  • . You may utilize the¬†¬†available at¬†.
  • √»√√ ”∆Ķ’s federal code is¬†010879.

Follow Up on Your FAFSA

  • You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) by mail or email. The SAR shows you the information that was entered on the FAFSA. Check for any errors and submit corrections on the FAFSA website or visit the Financial Aid Office for assistance.
  • √»√√ ”∆Ķ will email you at the email address listed on the FAFSA outlining the next steps in the financial aid process.
  • If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you will be required to submit additional documentation to the Financial Aid Office. Students selected for verification are required to provide a copy of their federal tax return transcript or utilize the “Link to IRS” feature on¬† to import federal tax return data.
  • To obtain a tax transcript, visit the IRS office located at 306 W. Eldorado, Decatur, IL, call 1-800-908-9946, or visit . Please note that ordering a transcript online will take approximately 5-10 business days for processing.

Financial Aid Facts

There are two basic types of financial aid: gift aid and self-help aid.

Gift Aid

Is assistance you receive that does not have to be repaid such as scholarships and grants.

Federal Programs

PELL Grant

Eligibility for this program is based on financial need. The program provides funds to undergraduate students for college costs, like tuition and fees, room and board, and living expenses. The financial aid administrator will determine your Pell Grant Award based on your expected family contribution (EFC) from your FAFSA and the number of credit hours in which you are enrolled.

Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

This grant is available to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need who are enrolled at least half-time.

State Programs

Monetary Award Program (MAP)

This program provides need-based grants for payment of tuition and mandatory fees. You must be a resident of Illinois and be enrolled in at least 3 credit hours at an Illinois college or university in a degree or certificate program.

Illinois National Guard Grant Program (ING)

Members of the Illinois National Guard are eligible to receive a grant that is not based on financial need. This grant will pay for tuition and some fees for students studying at Illinois public colleges, universities and community colleges. There is no minimum enrollment requirement. Students must apply each year by the deadline.

Illinois Veterans Grant (IVG)

Pays tuition and approved fees to qualified Illinois veterans with at least one year of active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and who served honorably. Veterans must have resided in Illinois six months prior to entering the service and must have returned to Illinois within six months of leaving the service.

MIA/POW Scholarship

Pay in-district tuition if you are the dependent of a person who was an Illinois resident at the time he/she entered active duty and has been declared to be a prisoner of war, missing in action, dead as a result of a service-connected cause as recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. Department of Defense, you may be eligible to receive the MIA/POW Scholarship. This scholarship may be used at public colleges in Illinois, and is administered by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

For more information, contact Tracy Smith at 217-782-3564 or visit the .

Self-Help Aid

Includes work opportunities and loans. It’s called self-help because you take responsibility for receiving this type of aid. Work-Study allows you to earn money while you are in college. Student loans assist students with educational expenses while in college.

Federal Work-Study (FWS)

Eligibility for this program is based on financial need. The program provides on- and off-campus jobs for undergraduate students who are enrolled at least half-time. Eligible students earn the federal minimum wage. Interested students should inquire in the Financial Aid Office and complete student worker applications in the Student Services Center.

Direct Loans

  • Interested students should inquire about applying for loans in the Financial Aid Office. Loan Entrance Counseling and a Master Promissary Note are required.
  • There are two types of loans – Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
  • Eligibility for subsidized loans is based on financial need. For subsidized loans, the federal government pays the interest while you are enrolled at least half-time, during your grace period, and during authorized deferment periods.
  • With unsubsidized loans, you are responsible for paying the interest. Unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need and can be used if you are enrolled at least half-time and you have limited or no subsidized loan eligibility.

Scholarship Resources

The ¬†awards over 500 scholarships to students attending √»√√ ”∆Ķ each year.

Scholarship Search Engines

There are many different scholarship searches on the Web these days. Below are sites¬† you may wish to visit to assist in your search for scholarships to fund your college education.¬†¬†Be cautious of any Web site which solicits credit card information or requests payment to process your scholarship application. For each website listed below, look for the words¬†ScholarshipŐżī«įýŐżScholarship Search¬†on the homepage.

  • ¬†–¬†is a resource for job/school-related information, scholarship search, and directory. Click on the link at the top of the page for Schools. Then select Financial Aid. The Financial Aid Selector is a search based on the information you enter. The Search for Scholarships function is an alphabetical list of scholarships, which is useful if you know the name of a particular scholarship and want further information. This site is password protected and you should contact Student Services at (217) 875-7211 ext 6274 for the username and password.
  • ¬†–¬†offers free scholarship searches (provided and ran by Sallie Mae)
  • – create a profile to be matched with potential scholarships
  • ¬†–¬†has a database of 600,000 scholarships
  • ¬†–¬†includes scholarships specific to current and former military personnel
  • ¬†–¬†maintains a free scholarship search service
  • ¬†– maintains a free scholarship search database

Return to Title IV

The Higher Education Amendment of 1998 requires institutions to calculate the amount of Title IV aid¬† earned by students who completely withdraw from the institution before completing 60 percent of the¬† enrollment term. √»√√ ”∆Ķ must calculate the amount of Title IV funds the student¬† earned for the period enrolled before withdrawing. This process requires √»√√ ”∆Ķ to determine¬† whether any Title IV funds received by or on behalf of that student must be returned or if the student is¬† entitled to further disbursements of awarded Title IV funds. A student who attended more than 60¬† percent of the payment period will earn 100 percent of their aid.

The last date of attendance is determined in one of two ways. If a student officially withdraws from the  institution, your last date of attendance is the date you began the withdrawal process or notified the  institution of your withdrawal. An unofficial withdrawal occurs when a student stops attending classes,  but does not notify the institution of the withdrawal. The Financial Aid Office will research to find the  last date of attendance by contacting Instructors, using Canvas, and receiving drop reports. If a student  has ceased to attend all classes, the latest date of attendance in all classes will be used in the  calculation.

The return of Title IV funds formula calculates the amount of Title IV aid to which a withdrawn student is¬† entitled in direct proportion to the percentage of the period that the student attended. If the amount¬† disbursed to the student is greater than the amount the student earned, the unearned funds must be¬† returned. If the amount disbursed to the student is less than the amount earned, and for which the¬† student is otherwise eligible, the student is eligible to receive a post‚Äźwithdrawal disbursement of the¬† earned aid that was not received.

√»√√ ”∆Ķ will return funds in the following order:

  1. Direct Unsubsidized loan
  2. Direct Subsidized loan
  3. Direct PLUS loan
  4. Federal Pell Grant
  5. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)¬† √»√√ ”∆Ķ will notify the student within 30 days if they are required to repay a portion of their financial¬† aid for the term. √»√√ ”∆Ķ will return funds within 45 days to the U.S. Department of Education.

Direct Lending Resources

We offer student loan repayment support for free in partnership with Ascendium Education Solutions and their Repayment Support Team.   You may receive emails and phone calls that offer help in managing your student loan payments.

Watch Your Inbox: For emails from √»√√ ”∆ĶCommunityCollege@cohortcatalyst.org

Incoming Calls: Could be from 800.815.1288

Take Advantage: You can speak to a HESS Counselor at 800.815.1288 or email them at hesssupportservices@ascendiumedcation.org  for help with your repayment options.

Veterans Educational Benefits

For information regarding veterans’ educational benefits, please refer to our¬†ŐżĪŤ≤Ļ≤ĶĪū.