JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Upcoming Important Dates from ISAC

05/20/2021

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 and their families.

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:

2022-23 (July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023)

2021-22 (July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022)

General Information (Not Specific to One Academic Year)

2022-23 ACADEMIC YEAR

By June 30: High School Juniors Take College Assessment Exams for State Scholar Program

Eligibility for the State Scholar Program is based, in part, on a student's highest qualifying ACT or SAT score. For current high school juniors, only exams taken between August 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021 qualify for consideration in the 2022-23 State Scholar announcements that will be made during their senior year (i.e., fall of 2021).

Because the June 30, 2021 deadline is fast approaching, remind your college-bound juniors who have not already done so to take their college entrance exams as soon as they can. Although ISAC staff will do all we can to assist students, there is no guarantee the administrative decision to expand testing dates that was made for 2021-22 State Scholars will be extended for the designation of 2022-23 Scholars.

COVID-19 Impact on Designation of State Scholars

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the postponement or cancellation of many spring 2020 college entrance exams (i.e., ACT and SAT). While we remain hopeful that – dependent upon improving pandemic conditions – college entrance exams will take place as scheduled throughout 2021, ISAC staff continues to monitor the situation. The State Scholar Program section of the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs area will be updated as needed with related information.

2021-22 ACADEMIC YEAR

State Scholar Updates

2021-22 State Scholars Announced
(Appeals due June 11)

As announced in an April 12 e-Message, qualified students were designated as 2021-22 State Scholars in April (i.e., high school seniors, who will be college freshmen during the 2021-22 academic year, were named Scholars during the spring of 2021).

Accepting Scores for Entrance Exams Taken August 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020

In order to best accommodate students impacted by the irregular standardized test (ACT and SAT) schedules caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, ISAC will include for 2021-22 State Scholar consideration results of tests taken from August 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020. Further details, including instructions for high schools with students they believe may qualify as 2021-22 State Scholars (based on scores ISAC has not yet received for tests taken between August 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020), are provided in a May 3 e-Message.

FAFSA® Still Available

The 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is still 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, 2021 and June 30, 2022. 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.

Details regarding the 2021-22 application cycle may be accessed by counselors and other professionals via the Applying for Financial Aid section of the e-Library for Partners.

Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid Available

Undocumented students and transgender students meeting the criteria of the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act may file the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid – which is patterned after the FAFSA and available in English and Spanish – to apply for the MAP grant. Further details are provided at ISAC's RISE Act page.

Every Monday: New FAFSA Completion Initiative Match Data Available

Beginning with the 2020-21 academic year (i.e., high school graduating class of 2021), 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 FAFSA Completion Initiative is a resource that can help high schools monitor their students' compliance with this mandate.

The FAFSA Completion Initiative matches student lists of participating high schools against FAFSA and Alternative Application records. New 2021-22 match data is available weekly, on Monday mornings.

Principals that have not already done so can sign up their respective high school for participation in ISAC's FAFSA Completion Initiative through our automated system at the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal.

GENERAL INFORMATION

June 17: Next Commission Meeting

The next meeting of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, June 17, 2021. 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 2021.

Week of July 12: 2021 College Changes Everything® Online Conference

Mark your calendar for the annual College Changes Everything® conference – Fostering Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging for the Success of All Learners – which will be a virtual event with online sessions throughout the week of July 12, 2021. Visit the College Changes Everything conference website, and watch for future e-Messages, for the latest updates.

Recordings of Professional Development Webinar Series Available Online

A May 17 e-Message announces that recordings from the fall and spring Professional Development webinars are now available to view online via the On-Demand Webinars page. All recordings are free to view, but registration is required.

Illinois Postsecondary Profiles Tool Available

Through a collaboration with several other state agencies, ISAC has recently made the Illinois Postsecondary Profiles (IPP) tool available via our website. This online resource offers postsecondary institution-specific data to help students and their families explore Illinois college options based on area of study, future occupation, school size and location, and other factors. Further details – including information about the Institutional Profiles, Occupational Profiles and Regional Profiles areas of the site – are provided in an April 6 e-Message.

Student Job Board Provides Leads for Summer Employment/Internships

Counselors are urged to promote the Student Job Board, which may be accessed via the Toolbox area of the ISAC Student Portal, to their students who may be seeking summer employment or internships. A variety of job types from all areas of the state are listed and are updated on a regular basis.

Outreach Resources

Information About the ISACorps and outreach programs are available on our website.

Find Your ISACorps Member

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. Please note that all outreach events in 2021 will be done virtually until otherwise noted.

e-Messaging Reminder

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.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Available for Eligible Households

The Emergency Broadband Benefit from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) helps eligible households afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic, connecting them to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and more. Further details, including eligibility requirements and instructions for requesting the benefit, are provided at the Emergency Broadcast Benefit page of the FCC website.

Holiday Schedules

ISAC staff will be unavailable for these holidays:

  • Monday, May 31 – Memorial Day
  • Monday, July 5 – Independence 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.