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RISE Act Implementation

11/01/2019

This message is the first in a series about the implementation of the Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act, leading up to its January 1, 2020 effective date. The RISE Act was signed into law on June 21, 2019, and has two significant impacts on programs administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC):

  1. expands eligibility to apply for ISAC's programs to students not previously eligible, and
  2. removes the 75-hour cap on the Monetary Award Program (MAP) paid credit hours for freshman and sophomore students.

Today's message offers an overview of the law itself, the status of resulting amendments to ISAC's administrative rules, and other general information around implementation.

As we move toward the January 1, 2020 effective date, we will share details on a regular basis as they are finalized. Our plans include the development of FAQ documents and guides/worksheets for your use, as well as the e-Message series, all to be released throughout the coming weeks. While working to implement the RISE Act provisions, we have collaborated with members of the financial aid community, including the ILASFAA/ISAC Rules & Operations Committee, and other individuals who have shared information and offered insights into next steps. We thank them for their participation and assistance.

Background

On June 21, 2019, the Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act was signed into law, with an effective date of January 1, 2020. As described in the enacting legislation, the Act provides that "a student who is an Illinois resident and who is not otherwise eligible for federal financial aid, including, but not limited to, a transgender student who is disqualified for failure to register for selective service or a noncitizen student who has not obtained lawful permanent residence, shall be eligible for state financial aid and benefits…".

The law further states that these students will be eligible to "apply or receive consideration for any student aid or benefit funded or administered by the State, any State agency, or any public institution of higher learning, including, but not limited to, scholarships, grants, awards, stipends, room and board assistance, tuition waivers, or other financial or in-kind assistance…".

Lastly, there is a provision that to "ensure equity, success and the retention of Illinois residents, a student … may not be subject to any caps on grant assistance under the Monetary Award Program other than those required by State law." As a result, the 75-hour cap on MAP paid credit hours for freshmen and sophomores will be lifted on January 1, 2020, for the spring semester/second and third quarters of the 2019-20 award year. The overall maximum of 135 MAP paid credit hours remains in effect.

Rules Amendments Status

Amendments have been proposed to four Parts of ISAC’s administrative rules to incorporate the changes necessary due to the RISE Act. The public comment period for the proposed rules amendments expired on September 23, 2019; no comments were received. The rules amendments were submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) for review and approval, and are anticipated to be effective on January 1, 2020.

Pathway to Apply for ISAC Programs

The RISE Act creates a pathway to apply for ISAC gift assistance programs for the 2020-21 academic year - including MAP, the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program, the Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver (SETTW) Program and others - for those who meet the RISE Act criteria and each program's eligibility requirements. The RISE Act does not exempt applicants from meeting existing program eligibility criteria.

  • Noncitizen Students

    Noncitizen students may be eligible to apply for ISAC's programs if they are "any person who is deemed an Illinois resident for tuition purposes under state law". In order to do so, an applicant must meet all of these criteria, which are based on Illinois statute regarding in-state tuition eligibility:

    • the individual resided with his or her parent or guardian while attending an Illinois public or private high school;
    • the individual graduated from a public or private high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in Illinois;
    • the individual attended school in Illinois for at least 3 years as of the date the individual graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma;
    • the individual provides an affidavit stating that the individual will file an application to become a permanent resident of the United States at the earliest opportunity the individual is eligible to do so; and
    • the individual has not established a residence outside of Illinois.

  • Transgender Students

    • Transgender students are also included in those eligible to apply for financial aid under the RISE Act. The RISE Act provides an application process for state financial aid consideration other than using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), which is used to qualify for both federal and state aid. Transgender students may choose the application process that best suits their individual situation.

RISE Act Application for MAP and Process

To accommodate RISE Act-eligible students (both noncitizen and transgender students), ISAC is creating an Illinois-specific online application for MAP. Instead of completing the FAFSA to begin the MAP application process, these students may choose to complete the RISE Act application. The data from the application will be used to calculate an expected family contribution (EFC) and determine students' MAP eligibility. The RISE Act application, patterned after the FAFSA, will be available on January 1, 2020 for the 2020-21 academic year.

Here is a high-level overview of the steps for application completion and the process used to determine MAP eligibility:

  • The RISE Act application will be accessible online through the ISAC website.
  • Pre-screening questions at the beginning of the application will help students determine which application (FAFSA vs. RISE) should be completed.
  • If an applicant's answers to the pre-screening questions show the RISE Act application should not be completed, a message will advise the applicant to consult a high school counselor, a financial aid administrator, or an ISACorps member for assistance in completing the FAFSA.
  • Similar to the FAFSA, skip logic will assist applicants in completing the RISE Act application by navigating them only to questions that are relevant to them.
  • An EFC will be calculated and provided to the college via the MAP component of the Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal as a RISE Act Student Record.
  • MAP award amounts will be calculated for eligible students and provided to colleges via GAP Access.
  • As with all MAP awards, eligibility notification will be provided to the student by the college (not ISAC).

Applications for Other ISAC Programs

Applications for ISAC programs other than MAP will be updated as needed to accommodate the RISE Act provisions. The applications will be made available as we open processing for each program for the 2020-21 academic year. The RISE Act application is for MAP consideration only.

Resources for Questions

Please share any questions about the RISE Act and associated issues with one of our School Services Representatives. Their contact information is provided in the closing of all of our e-Message communications. The School Services area is the central collection point for RISE Act inquiries and discussion items that will become part of the FAQ's and other guidance currently under development.

The most up-to-date information can always be found on the RISE Act page of our website, which is updated regularly with new details as they become available. Please refer to this page – and encourage your students and their families to do the same – to limit confusion and ensure consistent and accurate information sharing.

You are receiving this message because you registered for ISAC's e-Messaging service through one or more subscription groups for FAAs.

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.