Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act and Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid
(last updated February 4, 2020) This page is updated as new information becomes available during the implementation of the RISE Act; check back on a regular basis.
The Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act allows eligible undocumented students and transgender students who are disqualified from federal financial aid to apply for all forms of state financial aid. The Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid provides a pathway for these qualified students to apply for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, the state's largest need-based grant program for low-income college students.
The RISE Act also removed the 75-hour cap on Monetary Award Program (MAP) paid credit hours for freshmen and sophomores as of January 1, 2020. The overall maximum of 135 MAP paid credit hours remains in effect.
The RISE Act creates a pathway to apply for ISAC gift assistance programs for the 2020-21 academic year – including MAP, the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program, the Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver (SETTW) Programs and others – to those who meet the RISE Act criteria and each program’s eligibility requirements. The RISE Act does not exempt applicants from meeting existing program eligibility criteria.
- Undocumented Students
Undocumented students may be eligible to apply for ISAC’s programs if they meet all of these criteria, which are based on Illinois statute regarding in-state tuition eligibility:
- the individual resided with his or her parent or guardian while attending an Illinois public or private high school;
- the individual graduated from a public or private high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in Illinois;
- the individual attended school in Illinois for at least 3 years as of the date the individual graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma;
- the individual provides an affidavit stating that the individual will file an application to become a permanent resident of the United States at the earliest opportunity the individual is eligible to do so; and
- the individual has not established a residence outside of Illinois.
- Transgender Students
- Transgender students are also included in those eligible to apply for financial aid under the RISE Act. The RISE Act provides an application process for state financial aid consideration other than using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), which is used to qualify for both federal and state aid. Transgender students may choose the application process that best suits their individual situation.
To accommodate RISE Act-eligible students (both undocumented and transgender students), ISAC has created an Illinois-specific online application for MAP grants. Instead of completing the FAFSA to begin the MAP application process, these students may choose to complete the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid. The data from the application will be used to calculate an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is used in determining a student’s MAP eligibility. The application, patterned after the FAFSA, is now available for the 2020-21 academic year.
The Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid is not currently compatible with mobile devices.
The following describes in general terms the steps of application completion and the process used to determine MAP eligibility.
- The Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid is accessible online through the ISAC website.
- Pre-screening questions at the beginning of the application help students determine which application (RISE vs. FAFSA) should be completed.
- If an applicant’s answers to the pre-screening questions show the Alternative Application should not be completed, a message will advise them to consult their high school counselor, a financial aid professional, or an ISACorps member for assistance in completing the FAFSA.
- Similar to the FAFSA, students will only complete the application questions that are relevant to them.
- An "Expected Family Contribution" (EFC) will be calculated from the information submitted on the Alternative Application, which will be used in determining a student's eligibility for MAP.
- MAP award amounts will be calculated for eligible students and provided to colleges by ISAC.
- As with all MAP awards, eligibility notification will be provided to the student by the college, not ISAC.
Applications for ISAC programs other than MAP will be updated as necessary to accommodate the RISE Act provisions. The applications will be available as we open processing for each program for the 2020-21 academic year. The Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid is for MAP consideration only.