Volume 33, Number 3C
|Messages sent to:
|Multiple Subscription Groups
|High School Counselors/Teachers
Welcome to the September 2023 ISAC Communiqué, which is a compilation of e-Messages sent through ISAC's e-Messaging service throughout September.
The articles in this electronic Communiqué have been organized according to the Counselor subscription groups to which the messages were distributed.
Questions regarding information in this electronic Communiqué can be directed to School Services at 866.247.2172 or at ISAC.firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Save the Date for the First Annual First Gen Symposium!
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 September 27, 2023.
Mark your calendars for ISAC's first annual First Gen Symposium! The symposium will take place in-person on Thursday, November 30, 2023, in Springfield, Illinois.
The First Gen Symposium provides an opportunity for college-access professionals to learn and share best practices for supporting first-generation students in postsecondary planning. To learn more about the symposium, visit ISAC'S First Gen Symposium page.
Call for Proposals – Now Open!
We invite high schools, community-based organizations, TRIO Programs, and first generation programs at colleges, universities, and more, to submit a session proposal! Please submit a proposal by 11:59 p.m. (CT) on Friday, October 20, 2023.
For questions, contact email@example.com.
Join Us to Prepare for Federal Student Loan Payments Due in October
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 September 26, 2023.
there are steps you can take now to prepare for repayment!
Millions of federal student loan borrowers have had their loans and interest payments automatically paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The payment pause ended on August 30, 2023. Interest has been accruing since September 1, with first payments due in October.
To help borrowers across the state of Illinois, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is hosting free webinars on how federal student loan borrowers can navigate 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparing for Federal Student Loan Repayments to Resume
Join us on one of these dates in October to learn about the steps you can take to navigate repayment, what repayment options are available, and how to stay out of default.
- Wednesday, October 11, 8-9 a.m. (CT)
- Monday, October 16, 12-1 p.m. (CT)
- Tuesday, October 24, 4-5 p.m. (CT)
Processing Update for 2024-25 State Scholars (Impacting High School Graduating Class of 2024)
Sent to Principals/Superintendents/Administrators and High School Counselors/Teachers on September 26, 2023.
Unless otherwise noted, links in this message are to corresponding pages at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) website (isac.org).
As indicated in a July 10 e-Message, an early announcement option for the State Scholar Program (SSP) is again available this year. The purpose of today's message is to provide details regarding the early announcement process.
You may either scroll through the remainder of this message, or click on the appropriate link(s) to go directly to a specific section:
|Submit Sixth Semester Data as Soon as Possible
Online and Batch Submission Now Available; Submit Data by November 3
|Early Announcement Processing
Data Processing Has Begun; Early Announcements Anticipated to Begin by Early October
|Obtaining Certificates of Achievement
|Illinois State Scholar Badges
|Looking Ahead: Final Announcements
In order to ensure qualified students are included when determining 2024-25 State Scholars, be sure to submit sixth semester data as soon as possible. The final date through which data will be accepted is Friday, November 3, 2023.
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:
- if a school ranks, unweighted rankings should be provided;
- if a school does not rank, unweighted grade point averages (GPAs) must be provided;
- weighted rankings and GPAs cannot be accepted; and,
- schools are required to submit data for the entire class and to include any applicable disqualification codes.
If your high school's sixth semester data has already been successfully submitted (i.e., a confirmation e-mail was received from ISAC's School Services Department), proceed to the Early Announcement Processing section, below.
High schools that still must submit sixth semester data may choose from two available options: the online process, or in batches (via Excel spreadsheets).
Online Process – Now 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).
- Step-by-step instructions for the online SSP system, including sample screen prints, are provided via the SSP Online Processing User Guide, which may be accessed via the GAP Access page.
- An Illinois SSP Sixth Semester Academic Information Request form must be completed and submitted by the high school for any student who should be considered for SSP designation but does not appear on the online SSP system. The form may also be used to notify ISAC of issues that require exceptions processing (i.e., if duplicate student records appear on the online SSP system).
- Create an Excel spreadsheet with your students' sixth semester data.
- Formatting specifications for the Excel spreadsheet, along with a SSP File Upload User Guide, may be accessed via the Methods to Submit Sixth Semester Data area of the Required Sixth Semester Data page within the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs section.
- A sample template is available by selecting the "Guidelines and Samples" tab from the SSP: File Upload screen in the SSP system.
- Once 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.
- After 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.
- Sixth semester data processing has begun, and ISAC anticipates the first round of early announcements being made by early October.
- High schools 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.
- For high schools that submit sixth semester data via an Excel spreadsheet, the "Run Selection" checkbox becomes available to check after ISAC has processed the file and resolved any discrepancies.
- An e-mail is 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.
- For high schools that use the online process, the "Run Selection" box will be available immediately. The school simply needs to check the "Run Selection" box once the final sixth semester data has been submitted.
- 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 in late fall.
- Individual congratulatory letters will be sent based on when a student is announced as a State Scholar.
- As 2024-25 State Scholars are named, congratulatory letters will be mailed directly to Scholars.
- If your school does not choose to participate in the early announcement process, congratulatory letters will be mailed directly to your Scholars after the final round of announcements takes place in late fall.
- Using the option for obtaining Certificates of Achievement, high schools participating in the early announcement process will be able to print certificates as soon as their Scholars have been named, rather than waiting for the final round of announcements.
- High schools may generate the "Finalists" report in the SSP system after their State Scholars have been announced.
- Once a high school's 2024-25 State Scholars have been announced, corrections to already-submitted data would need to be submitted as follows:
- Changes (for example, correcting the spelling of a name, or reporting that a student was designated as a State Scholar in error) must be submitted in writing to ISAC's School Services Department via a fax to 847.831.8549, via an e-mail to email@example.com, or via regular mail to our Deerfield address.
Rather than waiting for the final round of announcements to take place in late fall, high schools have the option of downloading and printing Certificates of Achievement as soon as their Scholars have been named.
- Instructions for downloading and printing Certificates of Achievement are provided in the SSP Online Processing User Guide.
- Schools that do not choose to download and print their own certificates may instead wait for ISAC to mail printed Certificates of Achievement to them after the final round of announcements takes place.
- High schools that download their own certificates will not receive the ISAC-printed Certificates of Achievements later this fall.
Reminder Regarding Certificates of Achievement for Future Years
For the current State Scholar processing cycle (i.e., for Illinois students who will be college freshmen during the 2024-25 academic year), and after early announcements have commenced this 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 are reminded that – beginning with next year's State Scholar 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.
Included in the congratulatory letter is information regarding a digital Illinois State Scholar badge issued by ISAC. The badge can be displayed on a State Scholar's online profiles and social media accounts, and shared with high school counselors, prospective colleges, employers, family members and others. Scholars may access their badges by visiting the ISAC Student Portal at isac.org/studentportal/badge and then following the on-screen prompts. Complete instructions are available via at the ISAC website.
Validating a Badge
Those with whom a Scholar shares their badge may wish to validate its authenticity. In order for them to do so, the Scholar will need to provide either a link (URL) to the badge or the badge ID.
- If the link (URL) has been provided: click on the link, which will launch the Badge Verification screen. The badge ID will automatically be populated, so they only need to click on "Check Badge ID."
- To verify a badge without the link (URL): the person will need to access the State Scholar Program Badge area (located within the Toolbox section of the ISAC Student Portal), click on "Badge Verification," enter the Scholar's badge ID, and then click on "Check Badge ID."
A validated badge will display "Badge ID is valid for: (FIRST NAME) (LAST NAME)."
- If a high school counselor feels that a student should have been designated as a State Scholar and was not, ISAC must receive a letter of appeal from the student and/or high school on or before the appeal deadline.
- The deadline for 2024-25 State Scholar appeals will be determined, and all appeals will be considered, after all Scholars have been announced (anticipated for late fall).
- Details regarding the appeals process are provided at the Appeals page of the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs area.
- As you counsel students or parents with questions regarding the selection process, you may choose to share with them the student's GPA or class rank data that the high school submitted to ISAC, and explain how that information factors into the eligibility formula. An updated "Formula Used to Determine State Scholar Eligibility" resource will soon be available to access via the State Scholar Program page that is located within the Before College area of the Students & Parents section, under College and Career Exploration and Planning.
- A sample press release, which can assist schools in announcing State Scholars, will be provided at the ISAC website after final announcements have been made.
Back to School in Full Swing? Join ISAC for FREE Professional Development Webinars in October!
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 September 21, 2023.
We are excited to share the free webinars happening in October. See below for registration details and more information about each webinar. Please share these offerings with colleagues and partners! All times listed below are Central.
Professional Development hours and Continuing Education credits will be available. For questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, October 3, from 10-11:30 a.m. to learn about the upcoming changes! To register, visit ISAC's Webinars page.
Financial Aid Application Completion Initiative
Join us on Thursday, October 5, 2023, from 11-11:30 a.m. to learn how to access your students' financial aid application completion data through ISAC's Gift Assistance Program (GAP) Access portal. Through this free service to districts and schools, ISAC can share data daily to identify students who have not filed a financial aid application. To register, visit ISAC's Webinars page.
Illinois PaCE Updates
Join us on Thursday, October 12, from 11-11:45 a.m. to learn about updates to legislation regarding implementation of the Illinois Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) Framework in all public high schools. We will share the resources available to support schools and district through this process! To register, visit the Illinois PaCE: Webinars page.
FAFSA Simplification: New FSA ID Process
Hear about the new and important changes coming to the Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID process. Join us on Tuesday, October 17, from 10-10:30 a.m. to learn more about these changes and the impact on students and families. To register, visit ISAC's Webinars page.
Exploring Postsecondary Options
Join us on Tuesday, October 31, 2023, from 11–11:45 a.m. to learn about the different types of postsecondary options available to students and how to support students in determining their best fit. We will also discuss the barriers students face finding their academic, social, or financial fit. To register, visit ISAC's Webinars page.
Do You Send Paper Transcripts? Make the Switch to Electronic. It's Easy!
Sent to Principals/Superintendents/Administrators, High School Counselors/Teachers, Illinois Electronic Transcript Exchange High School Participants, and Illinois Electronic Transcript Exchange College Participants on September 20, 2023.
Join ISAC for a webinar to hear about this great opportunity!
The ISAC Transcript Exchange, powered by Parchment, provides the opportunity for high school students to request that transcripts be sent electronically to the college(s) of their choice, the Common App, and other organizations requesting transcripts (e.g., scholarship providers and third-party verifications).
ISAC Transcript Exchange – Parchment Preview
Join us on Wednesday, October 18, from 10-10:45 a.m. (CT) to learn about the ISAC Transcript Exchange, how to navigate the student and administrator dashboards, and gain efficiencies by switching from paper to electronic transcripts. To register, visit www.isac.org/pd/webinars.html.
For questions on ISAC's Transcript Exchange, contact Lenore.Smith@illinois.gov.
Note: ISAC will not be offering Continuing Education (CE) credits or Professional Development (PD) hours for this webinar.
Updated Illinois Career Pathways Dictionary
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 September 19, 2023.
First released in 2018, the Illinois Career Pathways Dictionary is a resource for policymakers and practitioners providing an overarching State definition for career pathways and terms essential to pathway programs and system elements. Initially released as a PDF document, it has been updated and relaunched as a comprehensive and user-friendly web-based resource at pathwaysdictionary.org, and we've updated the Illinois Postsecondary and Careers Expectations (PaCE) Resource Materials page of ISAC's website to link to the updated dictionary.
A wide range of education and training programs and workforce development initiatives administered by a variety of private, state, and local entities fall within this system of career pathways. It is critical that they use aligned terminology and language to ensure they are building programs and pathways effectively. Common to all this work is the aim of enabling Illinois residents to progressively build toward college and career success through aligned education, training, and employment opportunities over their lifetimes.
Beyond definitions, the Illinois Career Pathways Dictionary serves as a resource bank for practitioners involved in education, workforce development, and career guidance. The dictionary connects users to related implementation guidance and resources. This means that not only does the dictionary support alignment across state systems, but it also offers insight and practical advice on how to scale those policies and frameworks effectively. This comprehensive approach ensures that individuals have the necessary tools to translate knowledge into action.
An overview of the online dictionary and its key updates will be highlighted during a webinar on October 3, 2-3 p.m. (CT). Register here for the webinar.
Registration Open for the 2023 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Symposium
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 September 13, 2023.
We are excited to announce registration is NOW OPEN for the fifth annual FAFSA Symposium! The symposiums will take place at TWO LOCATIONS from 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (CT). We invite you to join us at:
- Illinois Central College on Wednesday, October 25
- Moraine Valley Community College on Tuesday, November 7
Register as soon as possible – and no later than Wednesday, October 18, 2023 – as space is limited. Registration for the symposium is $25 and includes continental breakfast, lunch, and symposium materials. Advance registration is required. Walk-in registration is not available.
We look forward to seeing you in October and November!
Don't Forget to Join Parchment
Sent to Principals/Superintendents/Administrators, High School Counselors/Teachers, Illinois Electronic Transcript Exchange High School Participants, and Illinois Electronic Transcript Exchange College Participants on September 5, 2023.
The Parchment Customer Success Team is hosting a Back to School Success webinar this Thursday, September 7 at 12 p.m. (CT). The webinar will provide information on:
- Parchment's NEW Graduation Verification Feature
- Best practices and resources for you and your students
- Product highlights and features you may not be using (but should!)
For more information and to register, visit the Parchment website.
The ISAC Transcript Exchange
The ISAC Transcript Exchange, in partnership with Parchment, is available at no cost to all Illinois public and private high schools! The Transcript Exchange enables student credentials like transcripts, verification documents, transfer records, and more to be sent electronically. Visit the ISAC Transcript Exchange page to learn more!
For questions about the ISAC Transcript Exchange, contact Lenore.Smith@illinois.gov.
2024-25 MAP Start-Up Formula Approved
Sent to High School Counselors/Teachers on September 22, 2023.
The following highlights some of the agenda items included at the September 21, 2023 meeting of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, and any action taken. A listing of the agenda items is provided in the September 21 Agenda Book, which can be accessed from the ISAC's Governing Board: The Commission section of the About ISAC area of ISAC's website.
FY25 (2024-25 Academic Year) MAP Start-up Formula Approved – Agenda Item 5
Because the fiscal year 2024-25 (FY25) state budget process has not yet begun, when developing the proposed start-up formula, staff assumed that the Monetary Award Program (MAP) will receive $701 million, which is level with the FY24 appropriation. Following the FY23 recompute formula, staff recommended and the Commission approved using 2021-22 reported tuition and fees and the 2021-22 Pell Grant Payment Schedule for 2023-24 academic year MAP grants, with a maximum award of $7,200. Following the FY24 recompute formula, staff recommended and the Commission approved using the following in the start-up formula for 2024-25 MAP grants:
- 2021-22 reported tuition and fees;
- the 2021-22 Pell Grant Payment Schedule;
- a $5,200 living allowance; and,
- an $8,400 maximum award.
In addition, as necessitated by FAFSA Simplification, the 2024-25 MAP start-up formula replaces "Expected Family Contribution (EFC)" with "Student Aid Index (SAI)" and includes clarification regarding how to handle negative SAIs. MAP is mirroring the federal methodology that allows students with negative and zero SAIs to receive the same maximum Pell amount.
Encourage Students to Submit 2024-25 FAFSA® or Alternative Application, Once Available
High schools should encourage college-bound seniors to submit the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) or the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid (Alternative Application) as soon as possible after the applications become available. The U.S. Department of Education anticipates that the FAFSA will be released in December 2023 for the 2024-25 academic year (allowing them time to implement changes set forth in the FAFSA Simplification Act), and ISAC plans to release the Alternative Application at the same time. As is standard protocol, ISAC staff will monitor application volume and appropriated funds throughout the year.
The following additional items were presented to and approved by the Commission:
- 2024 Meeting Dates – Agenda Item 1
- College Illinois!® Prepaid Tuition Program Updates – Agenda Item 7
- Outreach Update – Agenda Item 8
The next Commission meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday, December 7, 2023.
Commission Meeting Thursday, September 21
Sent to High School Counselors/Teachers on September 18, 2023.
The next regular meeting of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, September 21. Those interested in attending the meeting in person may do so at either the ISAC Deerfield or Springfield office location; see below for addresses. There will be no videoconference access to the meeting from ISAC's website.
Some of the items on the tentative agenda are:
- Fiscal year 2025 Monetary Award Program (MAP) start-up formula
- Outreach update
- College Illinois!® Prepaid Tuition Program investment and program updates
The Agenda Book, providing the complete listing of agenda items, is posted on the 2023 Agenda Books page, which is located within the ISAC's Governing Board: The Commission section of the About ISAC area of isac.org. The online Agenda Book will be updated within 1-2 days following the meeting to reflect action taken.
1755 Lake Cook Road
Conference Room 3030, 3rd floor
Enter through the east door and check in at the desk
500 West Monroe
Conference Room, 3rd floor
Enter from the rear parking lot through the east door, use the elevator or stairs
August 2023 ISAC Communiqué
Sent on September 1, 2023
The August 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 August 2023 ISAC Communiqué include:
- Submit a Proposal by September 8, 2023, for the 2023 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Symposium
(sent August 31, 2023)
- Join ISAC All Month Long for Free Webinars!
(sent August 29, 2023)
- Join Us to Learn about Preparing for Repayment of Your Federal Student Loans
(sent August 25, 2023)
- ISAC Transcript Exchange Available
(sent August 24, 2023)
- Upcoming Important Dates from ISAC
(sent August 23, 2023)
- Call for Proposals Now Open for the 2023 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Symposium
(sent August 16, 2023)
- 2023 CCE Conference Presentations Online
(sent August 3, 2023)
- July 2023 ISAC Communiqué
(sent August 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.