JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

State Scholar Processing Has Begun

07/10/2023

Unless otherwise noted, all links in this message may be accessed via the Counselors area at isac.org.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is providing the following information to notify high schools that processing for the State Scholar Program (SSP), for Illinois students who will be college freshmen during the 2024-25 academic year, has begun.

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

ISAC Accepting Sixth Semester Data
Early Announcement Option
Watch for Further Updates
Looking Ahead to Next Year

ISAC Accepting Sixth Semester Data

The sixth semester data used to determine State Scholars must be submitted via the SSP system. Although you are submitting the sixth semester data now, we will not "process" the student data until early fall.

High schools are encouraged to submit their data as soon as they are able to do so.

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:

  1. if a school ranks, unweighted rankings should be provided;
  2. if a school does not rank, unweighted grade point averages (GPAs) must be provided;
  3. weighted rankings and GPAs cannot be accepted; and,
  4. schools are required to submit data for the entire class and to include any applicable disqualification codes.

High schools may choose from two options when submitting the required sixth semester data:

Option One: Batches (via Excel Spreadsheets)AVAILABLE NOW

  • Create an Excel spreadsheet with your students' sixth semester data. All data files must be formatted according to the specifications provided by ISAC.
  • When 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.
  • Once the file has been uploaded, the file validation process will begin.
    • The validation process will take several minutes. Be sure to monitor the upload, and click the "Refresh" button to confirm the file has validated.
    • 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.
    • Note that file validation is different from data processing. Validation simply verifies that all records in the file are complete (no missing fields) and formatted correctly. You will be notified later in the year when the data processing cycle, during which State Scholars are named, begins.

Option Two: Online ProcessANTICIPATED FOR EARLY- TO MID-SEPTEMBER

  • Once this function is 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).

Early Announcement Option

The early announcement option continues to be offered this processing cycle. After an announcement schedule has been determined, early announcements – which allow eligible students to be designated as State Scholars prior to the final round of announcements for the academic year – will begin later this year. A follow-up e-Message will be sent once the first round of early announcements has been scheduled (anticipated for early- to mid-September).

  • Scholars at high schools choosing to take advantage of early announcements may have more opportunities to list this honorary designation on applications for college admission and merit-based scholarships.
  • High schools will 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 2024-25 State Scholar announcements.
    • The "Run Selection" checkbox will become available to check after ISAC has processed the high school's Excel spreadsheet and resolved any discrepancies.
      • An e-mail will be 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.
  • 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 later in the academic year (anticipated for the fall).

Watch for Further Updates

Watch for additional updates – including availability of the online option to provide/review individual records, and scheduling of the first round of early announcements – via the standard communication methods (i.e., the Counselor Message Board, the State Scholar Program News section, and ISAC's e-Messaging service). Processing updates will also be communicated via a yellow highlighted box that appears on the "State Scholar Program: Search By School: Results" screen.

Looking Ahead to Next Year

For the State Scholar processing cycle that is starting now (i.e., for Illinois students who will be college freshmen during the 2024-25 academic year), and after early announcements have commenced in the fall, schools will continue to have the option of printing their own Certificates of Achievement or having them printed and sent to them by ISAC after the final round of announcements has taken place.

High schools should be aware that – beginning with next year's State Scholars processing cycle (i.e., for Illinois students who will be college freshmen during the 2025-26 academic year) – ISAC will no longer print these documents. Rather, all high schools will need to print Certificates of Achievement for their State Scholars.

As a reminder, instructions for downloading and printing Certificates of Achievement – functionality that becomes available after a student is named a State Scholar by ISAC – are provided in the SSP Online Processing User Guide.

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 protected].