Photo of Christa Kristich
Christa Kristich

Whether you are a high school senior or a parent returning to school, navigating your funding options to pay for college can be cumbersome as you explore possibilities for education and training. If you plan on attending college starting in fall 2020, now is the time to start exploring ways to pay for college.

The 2020-2021 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opened on October 1. This free form determines eligibility for federal financial aid and state aid, such as the Monetary Award Program (MAP grant). The MAP grant is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) has set the priority date for MAP grant funding for December 1.  

Students who apply for the FAFSA are putting themselves in the running for many types of financial aid including federal grants, federal work-study opportunities, federal student loans and state grants. The FAFSA uses family income and assets to determine eligibility for need-based aid including federal and State of Illinois grants, subsidized loans that accrue no interest while the student is in school, and federal work-study.

When completing the FAFSA, there are several items that you need to have available. Students and parents will need to know social security numbers, dates of birth, information about income and assets for 2018, marital status with month and year. Also, if you are a non-U.S. citizen eligible for aid, you will need to bring your Alien Registration Number. The first step is creating a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID); one for the student and one for the parents. Once this is created, the FAFSA can be completed.

After the FAFSA is submitted, individual colleges and universities that were selected on the application will receive the results. This includes the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to determine the type of aid the student is eligible for. Students are encouraged to contact the respective financial aid offices to determine the next steps needed for financial aid to be awarded. Students should compare the total cost of attendance with the total amount awarded and decide whether they will accept or decline the aid.

There are some important tips to remember. It is not too late to apply for the 2019-2020 FAFSA if you want to enroll in the spring 2020 semester. You do not have to pay grants back. Federal work-study opportunities are jobs with the college. Loans are borrowed funds that are deferred while you are attending school at least half-time and paid back after graduation, if you drop below half-time or you stop attending school. Also, it is important to know that applying for financial aid does not mean that the aid has to be accepted. There may be circumstances in which a student does not want to accept financial aid, such as loans. That is fine. It is just a good idea to apply and see what options are available. For more information regarding Direct Loan interest rates, repayment plans and calculator, visit

Students looking to fund their education at Waubonsee Community College should visit Waubonsee’s Foundation web page for opportunities to apply for Waubonsee scholarships, private scholarships, and resources for free scholarship searches that are not connected to Waubonsee. Of note, the deadline for Waubonsee’s scholarship application is February 3, 2020.  

Veteran and Military Service members are encouraged to visit Waubonsee’s Veteran and Military page to find information on federal and state military education benefits and other resources available.

Remember, each school has a different process and students are encouraged to visit the financial aid web pages of the schools they are interested in to learn more about the school’s application process and available scholarships.

Please stop by one of our locations for assistance or call the Financial Aid Office (630-466-5774), as we are here to help.

Tagged As
News Features Voices