FAFSA deadline pushed to Friday

Students now have a few extra days to possibly get a little more money for school next year.

The Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) forms are now due Friday after a surprise extension announced on Monday.

By filing a FAFSA, students are eligible for the Monetary Award Program grant. Currently, 3,096 Eastern students are MAP grant recipients.

Jerry Donna, the director of the office of financial aid, said an email went out to all students Monday informing them of the extension, but the office has not had a lot of feedback.

“If you haven’t filed your FAFSA just get it in, whatever it takes to get it in by Friday because it could make the difference between a $4,700, $4,800 award from the state and not getting that award,” Donna said.

A notification went out March 17 from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission stating forms would be due Monday. The financial aid office sent out an email that day, hoping to reach students over spring break.

On Monday the ISAC extended the application an extra five days because of the amount of early applicants and recent calculations of available program funds. Last year the application cut off was April 15.

Donna said he was surprised to hear about the extension, but said he thought it was because they had more funds available and because the online application system was not working.

“Apparently people who were trying to get in so frantically over the weekend couldn’t get in because it was out of service,” Donna said. “So probably a combination of those two things made them think we really need to do is extend it so people can get their FAFSA in on time.”

Earlier this year the state cut 5 percent from the MAP grants, but Eastern covered the difference for students. Donna said next year another 5 percent will be cut, which will come out to about $248 per student.

Donna said the process to file a FAFSA form takes 45 minutes at the most. Applications require information from last year’s tax returns and can be filed online at FAFSA.ed.gov.

Donna encourages students to take the time to apply.

“We never want someone to think they can’t come to school because the funding is not there, we always like for them to at least call and talk to us and see what their options might be,” Donna said.

Emily Steele can be reached at [email protected] or 581-2812.