JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

ISAC Communiqué

Volume 33, Number 1C
July 2023

Messages sent to: Multiple Subscription Groups
  ISAC Communiqué

Welcome to the July 2023 ISAC Communiqué, which is a compilation of e-Messages sent through ISAC's e-Messaging service throughout July.

The articles in this electronic Communiqué have been organized according to the Counselor subscription groups to which the messages were distributed.

Questions?

Questions regarding information in this electronic Communiqué can be directed to School Services at 866.247.2172 or at [email protected]. On occasion, you may be directed to a specific contact person or area; when this occurs, we will provide the appropriate information in the individual article or message.


MULTIPLE SUBSCRIPTION GROUPS


Join Us to Learn about Preparing for Repayment of Your Student Loans
Sent to Principals/Superintendents/Administrators, High School Counselors/Teachers, College Admission Counselors, Illinois Electronic Transcript Exchange High School Participants, Illinois Electronic Transcript Exchange College Participants, Community Organizations, and Public Libraries on July 31, 2023.

If you have federal student loans, start preparing for repayment now!

Millions of federal student loan borrowers have had their federal student loan and interest payments automatically paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The payment pause will end on August 30, 2023, with payments beginning in October 2023.

To help borrowers across the state of Illinois, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is hosting free webinars through December on how federal student loan borrowers can prepare for repayment! To learn how you can prepare for repayment, visit the Return to Repayment page.

For registration details, visit the Webinars page located within the Professional Development Opportunities area at ISAC's website (isac.org). For questions, contact [email protected].

Preparing for Federal Student Loan Repayments to Resume

Join us on one of these dates in August to learn about the steps you can take to prepare for repayment, what repayment options are available, and how to stay out of default.

  • Monday, August 7, 12-1 p.m. (CT)
  • Tuesday, August 15, 8-9 a.m. (CT)
  • Thursday, August 24, 4-5 p.m. (CT)

If you have any questions regarding this e-Message, contact ISAC's Professional Development team at [email protected].


Join Us to Learn about Upcoming Changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)!
Sent to Principals/Superintendents/Administrators, High School Counselors/Teachers, College Admission Counselors, Illinois Electronic Transcript Exchange High School Participants, Illinois Electronic Transcript Exchange College Participants, Community Organizations, and Public Libraries on July 26, 2023.

We are excited to share that free events regarding FAFSA® Simplification are happening this month for school counselors, college and career staff, and others who support students through the financial aid process!

For more information and to register, visit the webinars page. Professional Development hours and Continuing Education credits are available. For questions on FAFSA Simplification, contact [email protected].

FAFSA Simplification: What We Know

The 2024-25 FAFSA will experience significant changes, which will impact students and families across the state of Illinois. Join us on Tuesday, August 8, from 10-11 a.m. (CT) to learn about the upcoming changes on:

  • reporting tax information for students and parents,
  • reporting parental information,
  • how to complete the application, and more!

Student Aid Index

Join us on Tuesday, August 22, from 10-10:30 a.m. (CT) for our session on the Student Aid Index (SAI). During this session we will discuss what we know so far regarding the switch from the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to the SAI on the FAFSA.

For questions about the webinars, contact [email protected].


State Scholar Processing Has Begun
Sent to Principals/Superintendents/Adminstrators and High School Counselors/Teachers on July 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.


2023 CCE Conference: Time is Running Out to  Register!
Sent to Principals/Superintendents/Administrators, High School Counselors/Teachers, College Admission Counselors, Illinois Electronic Transcript Exchange High School Participants, Illinois Electronic Transcript Exchange College Participants, Community Organizations, and Public Libraries on July 5, 2023.

2023 College Changes Everything Conference

Register Now!

July 13, 2023 – Tinley Park Convention Center

CCE 2023 – DEIA: The Work We Need to Do

We look forward to seeing you in-person next week at the 2023 College Changes Everything® conference as we focus attention on addressing the various Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) issues our students are facing and creating a culture where everyone feels they belong. One of the key strengths of this conference is that it brings together a diverse audience of stakeholders from across the state for a day of dialogue and sharing information, ideas, and best practices promoting student success. At all levels of the education system and across all workforce sectors we have a shared responsibility to be equity designers for our students. We are approaching our attendance limit and will be monitoring to see when we will have to close registration. So don't delay, register today! Registration is $40.00, and only credit card payments are accepted via Eventbrite.

During the morning general session, we'll be hearing from Dr. Susie Wise, author of Design for Belonging: How to Build Inclusion and Collaboration in Your Communities. Dr. Wise is a design leader with experience in the education, tech, and social sectors. She coaches leaders in equity design and innovation practices. She teaches at the d.school at Stanford University and coaches with the Mira Fellowship. Previously she founded and directed the K12 Lab at the d.school and co-created Liberatory Design.

The CCE annual conference is the state's preeminent college access and success and career readiness event and brings together stakeholders to help Illinois reach its Goal 2025 – to increase the proportion of adults in Illinois with high-quality degrees and postsecondary credentials to 60% by the year 2025. Since the first CCE conference in 2011, equity has been an underlying tenet of the annual convening as it brings together caring professionals who want to ensure all students have opportunities for college access and success and are career ready. Please share this e-Message with your colleagues and others in your network so they can register, too. More information about the conference is available on the conference website. See you in Tinley Park!

2023 College Changes Everything Conference Planning Committee

  • Illinois Student Assistance Commission
  • Illinois Board of Higher Education
  • Illinois Community College Board
  • Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
  • Illinois State Board of Education
  • Illinois College Access Network
  • Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities
  • Advance Illinois
  • Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University
  • ACT Now
  • Women Employed



The College Changes Everything® Conference is sponsored
by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

Helping Illinois reach its Goal 2025: to increase the proportion
of adults in Illinois with high-quality college degrees and
postsecondary credentials to 60% by the year 2025



CCE

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ISAC COMMUNIQUÉ


June 2023 ISAC Communiqué
Sent on July 3,, 2023

The June 2023 edition of the ISAC Communiqué is now available for your review, and may be accessed via the Partner e-Messages & Newsletters section of the e-Library for Partners at isac.org. This electronic version of ISAC's newsletter is a compilation of information provided to Counselor partners via ISAC's e-Messaging service over the past month.

Topics covered in the June 2023 ISAC Communiqué include:

  • 2023 CCE Conference: Space Is Filling Up Fast!
    (sent June 30, 2023)
  • Join Us to Learn about the Upcoming Changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)!
    (sent June 28, 2023)
  • Join Us to Learn about Preparing for Repayment of Your Student Loans
    (sent June 26, 2023)
  • 2023 CCE Conference: Be Our Guest and RSVP Now!
    (sent June 23, 2023)
  • ISAC Program FY24 Funding – Budget Bills Approved
    (sent June 15, 2023)
  • 2023 CCE Conference Preliminary Agenda Available
    (sent June 7, 2023)
  • May 2023 ISAC Communiqué
    (sent June 1, 2023)

Encourage Your Colleagues to Sign Up for e-Messaging

ISAC's e-Messaging service is our primary means of communicating information to Counselor partners.

Encourage your colleagues who have not done so to subscribe through the Counselors e-Messaging sign-up page at isac.org today, so that they won't miss future announcements or updates from ISAC.

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