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Heartland Community College

Sources of Aid

Gift Aid

Grants and scholarships are called "gift aid" because they are free money—financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid*. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit-based. Grants and scholarships can come from the federal government, the state government, the college, or a private or nonprofit organization. Do research, apply for any grants or scholarships the student might be eligible for, and be sure to meet application deadlines! 

*Here are some examples of why you might have to repay all or part of a federal grant:

  • You withdrew early from the program for which the grant was given. 
  • Your enrollment status changed in a way that reduced eligibility for grants (for instance, if you switch from full-time enrollment to part-time, the grant amount will be reduced). 
  • You received outside scholarships or grants that reduced the need for federal student aid.

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, and living expenses. The financial aid administrator will determine the student’s Pell Grant Award based on their expected family contribution (EFC) from their FAFSA and the number of credit hours in which the student are enrolled. Federal Pell Grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree. The student is not eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant if they are incarcerated in a federal or state penal institution or are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for a forcible or nonforcible sexual offense. The student may not receive Federal Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time. 

For more information on Pell Grant, please visit this page. The Pell Grant Chart can be reviewed to see your estimated award based on your expected family contribution (EFC).

Lifetime Eligibility Regulation

The amount of Federal Pell Grant funds any one student may receive over their lifetime is limited by federal law to be the equivalent of six years of Pell Grant funding. Since the maximum amount of Pell Grant funding one can receive each year is equal to 100%, the six-year equivalent is 600%.

Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG)

You can receive between $250 and $500 a year, depending on financial need, when you apply, the amount of other aid you receive, and the availability of funds at Heartland.  Each participating school receives a certain amount of FSEOG funds each year from the U.S. Department of Education's office of Federal Student Aid. Once the full amount of the school's FSEOG funds has been awarded to students, no more FSEOG awards can be made for that year. This system works differently from the Federal Pell Grant Program, which provides funds to every eligible student. Make sure you apply for federal student aid as early as you can. Each school sets its own deadlines for campus-based funds. 

For more information on SEOG, please visit this page. 

State Programs

Monetary Award Program (MAP)

MAP grants can only be applied toward tuition and mandatory fees. Map grants cannot be used for items such as books, travel or housing. You must be a resident of Illinois and be enrolled in at least 3 credit hours at an Illinois college. The actual amount of the award each term depends on the calculation of financial need, the cost of tuition and mandatory fees at Heartland, the number of hours for which you are enrolled, and other factors related to the amount of funding provided for the program each year.

For more information on MAP grants, please visit this page. 

Lifetime Eligibility Regulation

While you are classified by Heartland as a freshman or sophomore, the limit on the number of MAP Paid Credit Hours that can be paid is 75. If this limit is reached, you must attain junior status at whichever school you are (or will be) attending for your MAP grant eligibility to resume.  The maximum number of MAP Paid Credit Hours is capped at the equivalent of 135.

Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid

The Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid is an application for Illinois students who are not eligible for federal financial aid (and do not file the FAFSA). The student may apply for a State of Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant using the online Alternative Application for Illinois Federal Aid, which is patterned after the FAFSA. Further details and the application can be found at the Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act and Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid page

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 with educational expenses while in college.

Federal Work Study

Eligibility for this program is based on financial need. The financial aid administrator will determine the Federal work study eligibility based on your expected family contribution (EFC) from the FAFSA and the number of credit hours in which you are enrolled. 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 and are paid every two weeks by paycheck. Work study hours are typically 10-20 hours per week.

View more information about the federal work study program here.

William D. Ford Federal Direct Stafford Loans

Stafford loans are funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Direct loans are funds that must be repaid with interest. Your lender is the U.S. Department of Education and the loan is repaid to the federal government.  All students borrowing under the direct loan program must submit the FAFSA.  There are two types of Federal Direct Loans – a subsidized loan and an unsubsidized loan. You must demonstrate financial need in order to receive a subsidized loan.  The federal government will pay the interest on a subsidized loan while you are enrolled in college at least half time (6 credit hours).  An unsubsidized loan is not based on financial need. You are responsible for paying the interest on an unsubsidized loan from the time the loan is disbursed. The loan(s) will only disburse if you are enrolled in six (6) credit hours or more. 

Because both Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans MUST be repaid (with interest) to the U.S. government, you will be required to sign a legally binding contract (promissory note) promising to repay the loan. You should think very carefully before borrowing under these loan programs because there are serious consequences to not repaying student loans.

Under the Direct Loan program, you may generally borrow up to $5500 as a freshman and up to $6500 as a sophomore per academic year.  Under certain circumstances independent students may be eligible to borrow up to an additional $4000.  For the 2021-2022 academic year, the interest rate on both the subsidized and unsubsidized loan is 3.73%. A fee of 1.057% is deducted from the loan amount. This fee goes directly to the federal government to help offset the cost of processing the loan. Please visit our loan page for further information.

For more information on Federal student loans, please visit this page. 

William D. Ford Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

PLUS is available to parents of dependent undergraduate students who are enrolled at least half time (six credit hours). The loan is not based on need and the borrower is the parent, not the student. The interest rate on the loan is fixed at 6.28%.  Eligibility is based on credit approval.  Parents may borrow up to the amount of educational expenses minus any financial aid received by the student.  A fee of 4.228% is deducted from the loan amount.  This fee goes directly to the federal government to help offset the cost of processing the loan. Repayment begins within 60 days of the funds being fully disbursed.

Private Loan

Due to HCC's affordability, only about 12% of HCC students need a student loan. Over 99% of these students' borrowing needs are met by the Direct Loan program.  Since less than 1% of HCC students have a need for a loan beyond the Direct Loan program, the HCC financial aid office does not have a preferred lender list for private loans nor do we have preferred lender arrangements.  Students who have need of a loan beyond the limits of the Direct Loan program should evaluate lenders to find the most affordable private loan.

Contact Us

Financial Aid Office

Community Commons Building (CCB), Room 1101
1500 W. Raab Rd.
Normal, IL 61761

Phone: 309-268-8020



To schedule an online or in -person appointment, please visit the Heartland Navigate tile found within your Student Center.

Walk-ins are available from 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday