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Important Information and Upcoming Dates from ISAC

08/30/2017

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) would like to make you aware of the following information, which may be of interest to students and their parents.

Unless otherwise noted, links in this message are to corresponding pages at ISAC's website (isac.org).

You may either scroll through the remainder of this message, or click on the appropriate link(s) to go directly to a specific section:

General Information (Not Specific to One Academic Year)

2017-18 (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018)

2018-19 (July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019)

GENERAL INFORMATION

State Budget Update

Following the approval of state operating budgets for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 in early July, ISAC staff continues to review and analyze the impact to each of our programs and to determine the next steps in delivering student awards. We have and will continue to communicate with colleges regarding necessary processing activities. Students with questions regarding the status of their account at the college should contact the college's financial aid office.

ISAC Student Portal Provides MAP Resources

Encourage your student to visit the ISAC Student Portal to access these helpful resources related to Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants:

  • MAP Estimator – students who plan to attend an Illinois college may use this tool (which has been updated for the 2017-18 academic year and is located in the Toolbox area) to get an idea of their eligibility for the MAP grant, and
  • MAP Paid Credit Hours Display – MAP grant recipients may use this option (which is located in the ISAC Programs area) to track the number of MAP Paid Credit Hours they have used to date.

Holiday Schedules

  • September 4: Labor Day – ISAC offices will be closed on Monday, September 4 and will reopen on Tuesday, September 5.
  • October 9: Columbus Day – ISAC offices will be closed on Monday, October 9 and will reopen on Tuesday, October 10.
  • November 10: Veterans Day – ISAC offices will be closed on Friday, November 10 and will reopen on Monday, November 13.

For Assistance

Access ISAC's website anytime, or send an e-mail message to the ISAC Call Center. With the exception of days when the ISAC offices are closed, staff will review and respond to messages during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CT).

2017-18 ACADEMIC YEAR

Student Loan Interest Rates (for period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018)

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has announced the following student loan interest rates, which are in effect for the period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.

  • For undergraduate students, the interest rate on subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2016 is fixed at 4.45%.
  • For graduate students, unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2017 have a fixed rate of 6.00% (graduate students are not eligible for subsidized loans).
  • The interest rate on Federal PLUS loans (for parents and for graduate/professional students) disbursed on or after July 1, 2017 is fixed at 7.00%.

Further information may be accessed via the Interest Rates page of the Students & Parents area.

2017-18 FAFSA® Remains Available

Although ISAC suspended the announcement of 2017-18 MAP grants to all students whose initial 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is received by the federal processor on or after January 16, 2017 (note that this is a later date than previously had been announced – see the 2017-18 Processing Updates section of the MAP page for further details), the 2017-18 FAFSA remains available online, and – if not already done – should be completed and submitted as soon as possible by students who will be attending college between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. FAFSA results are used to determine eligibility for other forms of federal, state and institutional financial assistance. The suspension of 2017-18 MAP award announcements does not impact any other financial aid programs.

Important - please note: A May 3 announcement from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) confirms that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) that allows students and families to transfer their federal tax data directly into the FAFSA will remain unavailable for FAFSA filing until the start of the 2018-19 FAFSA processing cycle (in October 2017).

  • The FAFSA can still be completed electronically, but income and tax information will need to be entered manually (as was done before the IRS DRT became available). Applicants can complete the 2017-18 FAFSA using either a copy of their 2015 tax returns, data from their 2015 tax software, or information from their 2016-17 FAFSA if they have one on file.
  • If 2015 tax information is not readily available, applicants can file the FAFSA with estimated tax information and then request a summary of a previously-filed tax return (called a tax transcript), using that data to correct/update the FAFSA. Tax transcripts may be ordered from the IRS as follows:
    • Online – with the proper identity verification, tax transcripts may be viewed and downloaded from the IRS Get Transcript Online resource;
    • By Mail – requests to have tax transcripts sent via the mail may be submitted to the IRS using their Get Transcript by Mail tool; and,
    • By Phone – the taxpayer can call 1.800.908.9946, and a transcript will be delivered to the address of record within five to ten days.

2018-19 ACADEMIC YEAR

Start Planning Now for 2018-19 Academic Year

FAFSA Available on October 1 – Make Sure FSA ID is Ready

This is the time for high school seniors planning to start college in the fall of 2018, and their parents, to create an FSA ID, to be used in October when completing the FAFSA. FAFSA results are used to determine eligibility for the MAP grant, as well as several other forms of federal, state and institutional financial assistance. Be sure to submit the 2018-19 FAFSA, which will require 2016 income information, as soon after October 1, 2017 as possible.

October is College Changes Everything Month 2017

During the month of October, many high schools throughout Illinois will hold college application and FAFSA completion workshops for their students. If your college-bound student attends a participating school, encourage him or her to take advantage of these opportunities to receive assistance.

Outreach Resources, Including ISACorps Information, Available Online

Visit the Before College section of the Students & Parents area to learn about the many outreach initiatives offered by ISAC. Along with online resources to explore careers, find colleges, and learn about applying for financial aid, you'll find information about the ISACorps, which is a group of recent college graduates who are trained to serve as near peer mentors to high school students, helping students and their families navigate the process of applying to and entering college.

Beware of Scams

If your son or daughter plans to attend college during the 2018-19 academic year, now is the time to start searching for scholarships to help fund their education. As they conduct scholarship searches, remind them to beware of financial aid "scams." There are many reputable resources available, including the College & Scholarship Search that may be accessed via the ISAC Student Portal, scholarship books in your local library's reference section, and the financial aid office at the college they plan to attend.

In addition, if your child is a borrower who will soon be entering the repayment phase of their student loans, encourage them to be on the lookout for debt relief scams. Borrowers should never pay for information about how to repay their student loans, and they should learn about their repayment options and contact their loan servicer directly to arrange repayment. Further details are available in the Repaying Your Student Loans section of the Students & Parents area.

Attend an Informational Seminar in Your Community

Check out ISAC's Outreach Activities Calendar (also available in Spanish) for a listing of presentations being offered in your area. These seminars are designed to help students and their families learn about preparing for college and completing the financial aid process. Several events – including college fairs, financial aid nights, and FAFSA completion workshops (starting in October) – will take place across the State of Illinois. Plan to attend the event that best fits your schedule.

Before attending a FAFSA completion workshop, check out What to Bring to a FAFSA® Completion Workshop!

English- and Spanish-Speaking Counselors Available to Assist You

If you or your student have questions regarding the financial aid application process, you may speak with an ISAC Call Center Representative by calling 800.899.ISAC (4722). English- and Spanish-speaking counselors are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (CT).

An ISACorps member in your area can also assist you with the financial aid process.

You are receiving this message because you registered for ISAC's e-Messaging service through the Parents subscription group.

If you have any questions regarding this e-Message, please contact the ISAC Call Center by calling toll free at 800.899.ISAC (4722) or sending an e-mail message to isac.studentservices@isac.illinois.gov.