The volume of applications in Illinois for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is down about 14 percent from last year, according to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
The decrease in filings follows the Department of Education's recent changes to encourage more people to submit them; the filing window is open earlier, and the application does not require people to update it with 2016 tax information.
Eric Zarnikow is the executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
“Our expectation would have been that -- all things being equal -- we probably would have seen FAFSA filings increase," he said. "However, I would say the change from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1 could have created some confusion among people about when to file.”
Zarnikow also attributes the downward trend to the state's fiscal condition.
"What’s happening in Illinois with the budget impasse and the lack of funding for both MAP programs and the public universities is creating a lot of this decline in volume," he said.
Zarnikow said the uncertainty surrounding the lack of a state budget could mean fewer people are picking Illinois schools.