JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

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. Recordings of prior webinars regarding FAFSA Simplification, presented by the ISAC Professional Development staff, may be viewed via the Professional Development – On-Demand Webinars page. Watch for announcements regarding additional webinars that will be offered throughout the fall.

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.

FAFSA results are used to determine eligibility for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant, as well as several other forms of federal, state and institutional financial assistance.

September 8: Session Proposals Due for FAFSA Symposium

ISAC invites college-access professionals to submit a session proposal to present at the 2023 FAFSA Symposium, which will be offered in central Illinois and the Chicagoland area in October and November (specific dates will be announced once finalized). Further details, including access to the Session Proposal Form (which will be available through Friday, September 8, 2023), are provided at the FAFSA Symposium page and an August 16 e-Message.

October is College Changes Everything® Month 2023

During College Changes Everything® Month (October), ISAC will offer support for both college application activities and 2024-25 FAFSA completion. Watch for further details at the College Changes Everything website, and be sure to register your high school for a 2023 College Changes Everything Month event.

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 will 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 this coming fall's high school juniors, only exams taken between August 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024 qualify for consideration in the State Scholar announcements that will be made during their senior year (i.e., high school juniors, who will be college freshmen during the 2025-26 academic year, will be named Scholars during the fall of 2024). Further details are provided for students at the State Scholar Program page of our website.


State Scholar Processing Update

Submit Sixth Semester Data

A July 10 e-Message announces that sixth semester data, which will be used to determine State Scholar designation for Illinois students who will be college freshmen during the 2024-25 academic year, is being accepted via the State Scholar component of the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal.

The option to submit sixth semester data in batches (via Excel spreadsheets) is available now, and the online process is anticipated for early- to mid-September.

The early announcement option is again being offered this processing cycle.

GAP Access Reminders

  • High schools choosing to participate in the State Scholar Program process must be registered to utilize GAP Access.
  • Each time a user logs in to the GAP Access portal, the two-factor authentication process requires the use of a one-time verification code – which is obtained through an application – in conjunction with a user ID and password.
  • Please report any changes in your school's administration (i.e., new principal) to ISAC.
    • 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.

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

The July 10 e-Message also provides preliminary information regarding changes to the Certificates of Achievement process, which will take effect 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).

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 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.


August 24: "Return to Repayment" Webinar

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that interest on student loans will resume starting on September 1, 2023, and payments will be due starting in October.

Join us from 4-5 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, August 24, 2023 for a free webinar regarding how student loan borrowers can prepare for repayment to resume. Further details – including how to register – are provided in a July 31 e-Message.

Further details and Frequently Asked Questions can be found on ISAC's Return To Repayment page.

September 21: Next Commission Meeting

The next meeting of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission is scheduled to take place on Thursday, September 21, 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.

2023 College Changes Everything® (CCE) Conference Presentations Available Online

An August 3 e-Message announces that presentations and other materials from the 2023 College Changes Everything® (CCE) conference are available on the conference website. Additional presentations will be posted as they are received, so be sure to check back later if you do not find the presentation for a particular session.

2023 Virtual PaCE Symposium Presentations and Recordings Available Online

Presentations and the recordings from the virtual 2023 Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Symposium, which took place in May, may be accessed via the Illinois PaCE Symposium page.

Holiday Schedules

ISAC staff will be unavailable for these holidays:

  • Monday, September 4 – Labor Day
  • Monday, October 9 – Columbus Day
  • Friday, November 10 – Veterans Day (observed)
  • Thursday, November 23 – Thanksgiving Day
  • Friday, November 24 – Day after Thanksgiving
  • Monday, December 25 – Christmas
  • Monday, January 1 – New Year's Day

Staff will again be available the first business day immediately following each holiday.

For Assistance

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 isac.schoolservices@illinois.gov.