Paying for college is a big commitment, but it's also the best investment you can make in your future. The Financial Aid Office at Illinois State is here to help you and your family navigate the process. Depending on your family’s financial situation, paying for college may not be easy, but in most circumstances you can find a way to make it work.
The first step to getting any kind of financial assistance is filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Once your FAFSA is processed you will find out which federal, state, and University programs such as loans, work study, and grants you may qualify for. Remember to file your FAFSA no later than March 1 each year to be considered for all available funds.
Consider your options
- Both students and parents can borrow money from the Federal Direct Loan programs, which offer low interest rates and flexible repayment options.
- Grants—money that must not be repaid—are available to some students, usually based on financial need.
- Many students work part-time which often leads to better grades and time-management skills. Students typically work 12 to 15 hours per week and earn an average of $2,700 during the academic year. The University job board posts both on and off campus opportunities for students.
- Scholarships are available for students with exceptional academic talent.
Making it happen
- Talk with your family about your college plans. Students and parents often have very different ideas about how tuition bills and other expenses will be paid.
- Estimate your college expenses. An online calculator such the Cost of Attendance Estimator provided by the Financial Aid Office or the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid FAFSA4caster can give you an idea.
- Work on financial independence and responsibility. Ask your parents to include you in discussions and decisions related to paying for your education. Show your family you can make smart financial decisions by saving money or following a strict budget.
- Ask questions. Our financial aid professionals are happy to provide answers and assistance as you and your family figure out how to finance your education. Call the Financial Aid Office at (309) 438-2231, email FinancialAid@IllinoisState.edu, or visit Financialaid.IllinoisState.edu.