JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

2024-25 FAFSA, Alternative Application, and Important Dates


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)
New FAFSA® and Alternative Application Now Available

2023-24 (July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024)

General Information (Not Specific to One Academic Year)


FAFSA and Alternative Application Now Available

The 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) cycle, including the launch of the online FAFSA, has opened. The FAFSA Processing System (FPS) – formerly the Central Processing System (CPS) – anticipates transmitting 2024-25 FAFSA results to colleges later in January 2024, with data from paper/PDF FAFSAs processed starting in February 2024.

With the 2024-25 FAFSA:

  • up to 20 different colleges can be listed on the online FAFSA and have information sent to them;
  • 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,
  • students (applicants) and all contributors (which may include a Student Spouse, Parent, and/or Parent Spouse or Partner) must provide consent and approval for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to send federal tax information directly to the FAFSA via a new interface.

Details regarding the 2024-25 application cycle may be accessed via the Applying for Financial Aid section of the e-Library for Partners.

The 2024-25 Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid (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 Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant. Further details are provided at ISAC's Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act page.

Encourage your college-bound students to check out the Financial Aid Planning area for information regarding resources that are available to help students complete the financial aid process.

MAP Processing Cycle

The 2024-25 MAP processing cycle will commence after the FPS begins providing FAFSA results to colleges and state agencies (anticipated for later in January 2024).

As was previously announced, at its September 21, 2023 meeting, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission approved a start-up formula for 2024-25 academic year MAP grants, with a maximum award of $8,400. Additional details regarding the formula are provided in a September 22 e-Message.

Financial Aid Application Completion Initiative and Nonparticipation Form

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 function in the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal will match data on a daily basis once ISAC starts receiving student financial aid application information in late January. The Financial Aid Application Completion Performance Metrics page for the class of 2024 will populate on a weekly basis, also beginning in January. Principals who have not already done so can sign up their high school for participation in the initiative through the GAP Access portal.

Starting with the class of 2024, students and/or parents who choose to not complete either the FAFSA or the Alternative Application, will complete the Financial Aid Application Nonparticipation Form online via ISAC's Student Portal. A student and/or parent will need a Student Portal account to complete and sign the Nonparticipation Form. Once the form has been completed, the opt-out box within GAP Access will auto-populate with a check mark in your senior class roster.

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 current 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.


January 31: Appeal Deadline for State Scholar Program

As announced in a November 21 e-Message, more nearly 16,700 qualified Illinois high school students were designated as State Scholars last fall.

Available again this year is a digital Illinois State Scholar badge issued by ISAC, which State Scholars can display on their online profiles and social media accounts, as well as share with high school counselors, prospective colleges, employers, family members and others. Further details are provided in the congratulatory letters sent to State Scholars throughout the fall of 2023.

Appeals regarding the fall 2023 announcement of State Scholars must be received at ISAC by January 31, 2024.


January 18: "ISAC Transcript Exchange – Parchment Preview" Webinar

Learn how to make the switch from paper to electronic transcripts via the ISAC Transcript Exchange by participating in a webinar being offered from 10-10:45 a.m. (CT) on Thursday, January 18, 2024. Further details are provided in a December 18 e-Message.

February 29: Illinois Education and Career Success Network Conference

Register today for the eleventh annual Illinois Education and Career Success Network Conference, taking place on February 29, 2024, at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois. This one-day event provides a variety of high-quality interest sessions and engaging learning opportunities for leaders from secondary and postsecondary education, local and state government, community-based organizations, policy advocates, grantmakers, employers, and other stakeholders interested in equitably increasing postsecondary attainment in Illinois. Visit the registration site for an overview of the conference agenda and interest sessions.

April 18: Next Commission Meeting

The next meeting of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, April 18, 2024. 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 2024.

Coming this Spring: First Gen Symposium

Watch for future announcements regarding the first annual First Gen Symposium, which is anticipated to take place in the spring of 2024.

Holiday Schedules

ISAC staff will be unavailable for these holidays:

  • Monday, January 15, 2024 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Monday, February 12, 2024 – Lincoln's Birthday
  • Monday, February 19, 2024 – Presidents' 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.