Upcoming Important Dates from ISAC
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) would like to make you aware of the following information, which may be of interest to you and/or your college-bound students.
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:
2024-25 (July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025)
2023-24 (July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024)
General Information (Not Specific to One Academic Year)
By End of December 2023: 2024-25 FAFSA® Available
As part of implementation of the FAFSA Simplification Act, the 2024-25 federal process for requesting financial assistance is anticipated to reflect the changes outlined below. Because these changes will take time to properly implement, the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is expected to be available in December 2023 (rather than in October). ISAC anticipates availability of the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid for the 2024-25 academic year to coincide with the launch of the 2024-25 FAFSA.
With the 2024-25 FAFSA:
- up to 20 different colleges can be listed on the online FAFSA and have information sent to them (in prior years, only ten colleges could be listed);
- due to a change in the methodology used to determine aid, a Student Aid Index (SAI) – rather than an expected family contribution (EFC) – is used to measure the student's (and, if applicable, the family's) ability to pay for college;
- the new need analysis formula no longer factors the number of family members attending college into the calculation;
- separate criteria to determine eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant Program, linking eligibility to family size and the federal poverty level, make program funds available to more students; and,
- revisions to several of the processes and systems used to award federal student aid are required, including a new interface to directly receive federal tax information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The e-Library's 2024-25 FAFSA Completion area is updated on a regular basis as details are released regarding the 2024-25 federal process for requesting financial aid.
College-bound students and their families, who may be seeking information, can be directed to the Financial Aid: Completing the FAFSA area of ISAC's website – which will also be regularly updated as new information becomes available – and the Federal Student Aid studentaid.gov website.
May 16: FAFSA Simplification Webinar
Join us for a "FAFSA Simplification: What We Know" webinar, being offered on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 from 1-2 p.m. (CT). Hear what is changing via the Consolidated Appropriations Act as ISAC gives a high-level review of the Student Aid Index (SAI), parental information, and the new FSA ID process. Further details, including access to online registration, are provided in a May 9 e-Message.
Prepare for Upcoming State Scholar Processing Cycle
High schools will be notified via the usual communication methods (the State Scholar Program News area, the Counselor Message Board, and this e-Messaging service) once sixth semester data – which will be used to determine State Scholar eligibility for high school juniors who will be college freshmen during the 2024-25 academic year, and will be named Scholars during the fall of 2023 – is being accepted.
As you begin preparing for the upcoming State Scholar processing cycle, remember that sixth semester data is accepted only via the State Scholar component of the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs Access (GAP Access) portal. Information regarding how to register for GAP Access is provided via the Required Sixth Semester Data page within the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs section.
School Contact Information
Please notify ISAC of any changes in your school's administration (i.e., new principal).
In keeping with the goal of securing all confidential data, the principal of each high school is designated as that school's GAP Access Primary Administrator. While we understand principals are not usually involved in the day to day processes, we do require the school principal to register for their own GAP Access account.
By June 30: High School Juniors Take College Assessment Exams for State Scholar Consideration
Eligibility for the State Scholar Program is based, in part, on a student's highest qualifying ACT or SAT score. High school juniors who are potential candidates need to take one of the accepted exams during the specified timeframe to be considered for State Scholar designation, even though Illinois' public institutions are now prohibited from requiring the submission of student test scores as part of the admissions process.
For current high school juniors, only exams taken between August 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023 qualify for consideration in the State Scholar announcements that will be made during their senior year (in the fall of 2023). Further details are provided for students at the State Scholar Program page of our website.
2023-24 FAFSA and Alternative Application Remain Available
The 2023-24 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, 2023 and June 30, 2024. FAFSA results are used to determine eligibility for several forms of federal, state and institutional financial assistance, including the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant.
In addition, the 2023-24 Alternative Application is also available (in English and Spanish). Qualifying undocumented students may file the Alternative Application – which is patterned after the FAFSA – to apply for the MAP grant. Further details are provided at ISAC's Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act page.
Financial Aid Application Completion Initiative
All Illinois public high school students are required to complete either the FAFSA or the Alternative Application as a prerequisite to receiving a high school diploma. ISAC's Financial Aid Application Completion Initiative is a resource that can help high schools monitor their students' compliance with this mandate.
The Financial Aid Application Completion Initiative matches student lists of participating high schools against FAFSA and Alternative Application records. New 2023-24 match data is available on a daily basis.
Further details – including specific information for public high schools and private high schools, details regarding an "opt-out" box allowing high schools to indicate that the financial aid application mandate waiver provision has been exercised, access to the current user guide, and information on how to participate in the Financial Aid Application Completion Initiative – are provided in a November 14 e-Message.
MTI Scholarship Applications Still Being Accepted
Make sure your college-bound seniors are aware that the 2023-24 application for the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program continues to be accepted, even though the March 31, 2023 priority consideration date has passed. Complete applications – including the 2023-24 FAFSA (or Alternative Application, if applicable) – received after this date will continue to be considered for the MTI Scholarship Program for as long as funding remains after all timely complete applicants have been awarded. Encourage all minority students and qualified bilingual minority applicants who meet the program's eligibility requirements to complete and submit their applications as soon as possible.
First Generation Scholars Network
Encourage your graduating seniors who will be the first in their family to earn a college degree to join the First Generation Scholars Network to get support and resources from ISAC, their peers, and colleges across the state. Students heading to their first year of college this fall will find events and programs that provide tools, resources, mentoring, and connections that can help make the transition easier.
ISAC and our First Generation Scholars Network mentors are available to work with colleges and universities to support existing campus programming for first generation college students and to collaborate to develop new student supports. Contact ISAC.FirstGen@illinois.gov to start the conversation on ways ISAC can partner with your campus for student success.
Further details are provided in a March 27 e-Message.
Online Resource Helps Students Find Leads for Summer Employment/Internships
Counselors are urged to promote the "Internship and Summer Jobs" online resource, which may be accessed via the Toolbox area of the ISAC Student Portal, to their students who may be seeking summer employment or internships.
Information About the ISACorps and outreach programs are available on our website.
In the Outreach Resources section, you will find additional information on how we can assist you with your school's efforts to provide college-bound students with information about financial aid.
ISAC's e-Messaging service is our primary means of communication with our high school partners. Please share this information with any colleagues who may not yet be registered to receive ISAC's e-Messages.
May 11: Virtual ISAC PaCE Symposium
ISAC will host a virtual Illinois Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Symposium, starting at 9 a.m. (CT) on Thursday, May 11, 2023. We hope those who were unable to join us for April's in-person symposium can participate virtually to learn about the latest updates regarding the Illinois PaCE Framework. Further details – including access to registration for the event – are provided in an April 25 e-Message.
June 22: Next Commission Meeting
The next meeting of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission is scheduled to take place on Thursday, June 22, 2023. Further details, including a listing of tentative agenda items, will be available prior to the meeting via the ISAC's Governing Board: The Commission section of the About ISAC area.
Visit the Commission Meeting Schedule page for information regarding all meetings scheduled in 2023.
July 13: 2023 College Changes Everything® Conference
Register today for the annual College Changes Everything® conference – DEIA: The Work We Need to Do – which will be an in-person event taking place on July 13, 2023, at the Tinley Park Convention Center in Tinley Park, Illinois. Further details are provided at the College Changes Everything conference website, as well as in a May 9 e-Message.
ISAC staff will be unavailable for these holidays:
- Monday, May 29 – Memorial Day
- Monday, June 19 – Juneteenth
- Tuesday, July 4 – Independence Day
Staff will again be available the first business day immediately following each holiday.
Access the Counselors area anytime, or send an e-mail message to ISAC's School Services Department. With the exception of days when ISAC staff members are unavailable, we will review and respond to messages during regular business hours of Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (CT).
You are receiving this message because you registered for ISAC's e-Messaging service through one or more subscription groups for Counselors.
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.