Processing Update for 2023-24 State Scholars
(Impacting High School Graduating Class of 2023)
Unless otherwise noted, links in this message are to corresponding pages at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) website (isac.org).
As indicated in a July 14 e-Message, an early announcement option for the State Scholar Program (SSP) is again available this year. The purpose of today's message is to provide details regarding the early announcement process.
You may either scroll through the remainder of this message, or click on the appropriate link(s) to go directly to a specific section:
|Submit Sixth Semester Data on or before November 4
Online and Batch Submission Now Available
|Early Announcement Processing
Data Processing Has Begun; Early Announcements to Begin as Soon as Late September/Early October
|Obtaining Certificates of Achievement|
|Illinois State Scholar Badges|
|Looking Ahead: Final Announcements|
Submit Sixth Semester Data on or before November 4
In order to ensure qualified students are included when determining 2023-24 State Scholars, be sure to submit sixth semester data as soon as possible – and, no later than Friday, November 4, 2022.
Sixth semester is defined as the third semester prior to graduation, which is typically the end of a student's junior year (excluding summer term). The following procedures remain in effect for this year's cycle:
- if a school ranks, unweighted rankings should be provided;
- if a school does not rank, unweighted grade point averages (GPAs) must be provided;
- weighted rankings and GPAs cannot be accepted; and,
- schools are required to submit data for the entire class and to include any applicable disqualification codes.
If your high school's sixth semester data has already been successfully submitted (i.e., a confirmation e-mail was received from ISAC's School Services Department), proceed to the Early Announcement Processing section, below.
High schools that still must submit sixth semester data may choose from two available options: the online process, or in batches (via Excel spreadsheets).
Online Process – Now Available
- Student sixth semester data may be provided online via the SSP system.
- The student list is provided based on students who took one of the standardized tests (ACT or SAT).
- Step-by-step instructions for the online SSP system, including sample screen prints, are provided via the SSP Online Processing User Guide, which may be accessed via the GAP Access page.
- An Illinois SSP Sixth Semester Academic Information Request form must be completed and submitted by the high school for any student who should be considered for SSP designation but does not appear on the online SSP system. The form may also be used to notify ISAC of issues that require exceptions processing (i.e., if duplicate student records appear on the online SSP system).
Batches (via Excel Spreadsheets) – Remains Available
- Create an Excel spreadsheet with your students' sixth semester data.
- Formatting specifications for the Excel spreadsheet, along with a SSP File Upload User Guide, may be accessed via the Methods to Submit Sixth Semester Data area of the Required Sixth Semester Data page within the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs section.
- A sample template is available by selecting the "Guidelines and Samples" tab from the SSP: File Upload screen in the SSP system.
- Once the Excel spreadsheet is ready to submit, log in to the GAP Access portal to access the SSP system, and then follow the on-screen prompts to upload your file to ISAC.
- After the file has been uploaded, the file validation process will begin.
- The validation process will take several minutes (5 minutes minimum), so allow enough time and then click the "Refresh" button to check if the validation is complete.
- After validation has completed, the file will have one of two statuses: "Validated" (no errors); or, "Validation Errors Found" (with errors).
- If the file status is "Validated," no further action is required.
- If the file status is "Validation Errors Found," the errors must be corrected before any students on the file can be considered for State Scholar designation. Instructions for correcting errors are provided in the SSP File Upload User Guide.
- Sixth semester data processing has begun, and ISAC anticipates the first round of early announcements being made as soon as late September/early October.
- High schools choose whether to include their eligible students for consideration in the early processing cycle.
- Checking the "Run Selection" box (located on the "State Scholar Program: Search By School: Results" screen of the SSP system) allows the high school's students to be included for consideration in the next round of 2023-24 State Scholar announcements.
- For high schools that submit sixth semester data via an Excel spreadsheet, the "Run Selection" checkbox becomes available to check after ISAC has processed the file and resolved any discrepancies.
- An e-mail is sent to the high school's Primary Administrator (principal) and the School Contact (as listed in the SSP system's "State Scholar Program: Search by School: Results" screen) to indicate when the "Run Selection" box is available to check.
- Before checking the box, be sure to review all submitted student data for accuracy.
- For high schools that use the online process, the "Run Selection" box will be available immediately. The school simply needs to check the "Run Selection" box once the final sixth semester data has been submitted.
- Students whose high schools submit sixth semester data, but are not included for consideration in an early announcement round (i.e., the "Run Selection" box is not checked), will be considered for State Scholar designation when the last announcement round takes place in late fall.
- Individual congratulatory letters will be sent based on when a student is announced as a State Scholar.
- As 2023-24 State Scholars are named, congratulatory letters will be mailed directly to Scholars.
- If your school does not choose to participate in the early announcement process, congratulatory letters will be mailed directly to your Scholars after the final round of announcements takes place in late fall.
- Using the option for obtaining Certificates of Achievement, high schools participating in the early announcement process will be able to print certificates as soon as their Scholars have been named, rather than waiting for the final round of announcements.
- High schools may generate the "Finalists" report in the SSP system after their State Scholars have been announced.
- Once a high school's 2023-24 State Scholars have been announced, corrections to already-submitted data would need to be submitted as follows:
- Changes (for example, correcting the spelling of a name, or reporting that a student was designated as a State Scholar in error) must be submitted in writing to ISAC's School Services Department via a fax to 847.831.8549, via an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via regular mail to our Deerfield address.
Obtaining Certificates of Achievement
Rather than waiting for the final round of announcements to take place in late fall, high schools have the option of downloading and printing Certificates of Achievement as soon as their Scholars have been named.
- Instructions for downloading and printing Certificates of Achievement are provided in the SSP Online Processing User Guide.
- Schools that do not choose to download and print their own certificates may instead wait for ISAC to mail printed Certificates of Achievement to them after the final round of announcements takes place.
- High schools that download their own certificates will not receive the ISAC-printed Certificates of Achievements later this fall.
Included in the congratulatory letter is information regarding a digital Illinois State Scholar badge issued by ISAC. The badge can be displayed on a State Scholar's online profiles and social media accounts, and shared with high school counselors, prospective colleges, employers, family members and others. Scholars may access their badges by visiting the ISAC Student Portal at isac.org/studentportal/badge and then following the on-screen prompts. Complete instructions are available via at the ISAC website.
Validating a Badge
Those with whom a Scholar shares their badge may wish to validate its authenticity. In order for them to do so, the Scholar will need to provide either a link (URL) to the badge or the badge ID.
- If the link (URL) has been provided: click on the link, which will launch the Badge Verification screen. The badge ID will automatically be populated, so they only need to click on "Check Badge ID."
- To verify a badge without the link (URL): the person will need to access the State Scholar Program Badge area (located within the Toolbox section of the ISAC Student Portal), click on "Badge Verification," enter the Scholar's badge ID, and then click on "Check Badge ID."
A validated badge will display "Badge ID is valid for: (FIRST NAME) (LAST NAME)."
- If a high school counselor feels that a student should have been designated as a State Scholar and was not, ISAC must receive a letter of appeal from the student and/or high school on or before the appeal deadline.
- The deadline for 2023-24 State Scholar appeals will be determined, and all appeals will be considered, after all Scholars have been announced (anticipated for late fall).
- Details regarding the appeals process are provided at the Appeals page of the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs area.
- As you counsel students or parents with questions regarding the selection process, you may choose to share with them the student's GPA or class rank data that the high school submitted to ISAC, and explain how that information factors into the eligibility formula. An updated "Formula Used to Determine State Scholar Eligibility" resource will soon be available to access via the State Scholar Program page that is located within the Before College area of the Students & Parents section, under College and Career Exploration and Planning.
Looking Ahead: Final Announcements
- A sample press release, which can assist schools in announcing State Scholars, will be provided at the ISAC website after final announcements have been made.
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If you have any questions regarding this e-Message, please contact ISAC's School Services Department by calling toll free at 866.247.2172 or sending an e-mail message to email@example.com.