JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

ISAC Update

VOL. 37, NO. 10F
April 2020

Messages sent to:   Multiple Subscription Groups
Public Schools - Participating in the ING Grant and IVG Programs
ISAC Update

Welcome to the April 2020 ISAC Update for financial aid administrators and business officers. This version of the electronic ISAC Update is a compilation of e-Messages sent through ISAC's e-Messaging service throughout April.

The articles in this Update have been organized according to the FAA subscription groups to which the messages were distributed.


Questions regarding information in this ISAC Update can be directed to School Services at 866.247.2172 or at isac.schoolservices@illinois.gov. 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.


Virtual Commission Meeting to be Held Tuesday, April 28 - No Executive Briefing
Sent to Financial Aid Directors and Financial Aid Administrators on April 24, 2020.

The next regular meeting of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) will be conducted via videoconference and will begin at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28. This is a postponement of the originally scheduled date of April 9.

Some of the items on the tentative agenda for the meeting are:

  • Proposed administrative program rules and amendments
  • State Legislative update
  • College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program investment and program updates

The Agenda Book, providing the complete listing of agenda items is posted on the 2020 Agenda Books page.  Instructions for connecting to the meeting via WebEx, including the WebEx link, are available on the Commission Meeting page. Both pages are 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.

No Executive Briefing Conference Call

There is no Executive Briefing conference call scheduled following the April Commission meeting.

2020-21 MTI Scholarship Update
Sent to Financial Aid Directors and Financial Aid Administrators on April 20, 2020.

Unless otherwise noted, links in this message may be accessed via the Financial Aid Administrators area at ISAC’s website (isac.org).

Certify Eligibility for MTI Scholarships

Effective today (Monday, April 20, 2020), colleges may certify eligibility for the 2020-21 Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program using the MTI system [which is accessed via the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal].

As a reminder, the Golden Apple Foundation certifies eligibility for the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program. The college's role for the Golden Apple Scholars program starts with payment processing.

Continue Certifying Eligibility Throughout the Year

  • Colleges are encouraged to continue certifying eligibility for MTI Scholars on a daily basis.
    • Separate notification will not be sent when new records are made available in the MTI system.
  • All certification records available in the MTI system must be completed, regardless of whether the college certifies a student as eligible or ineligible and regardless of whether the student is currently enrolled.
    • The only way applicants will receive notification from ISAC regarding their eligibility status is if their colleges have submitted the certification data via the MTI system.
  • Continue certifying eligibility throughout the year, in order to ensure that your students will be included in any rounds of awarding that take place.
    • The schedule for awarding 2020-21 MTI Scholars will be dependent upon the status of the fiscal year 2021 state budget.

Online Resources

Specific details regarding the MTI system, including instructions for certifying eligibility and how to access reports, are provided via the MTI Electronic Processing page.

The MTI system is available each day from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. (CT).

Accessing the MTI System

The GAP Access Primary Administrator (typically, the financial aid director) must set MTI privileges for financial aid staff who need to view and/or edit data in the MTI system.

Watch for Future Updates

Watch for future 2020-21 updates from ISAC – including information regarding MTI awarding, and payment processing for the MTI and Golden Apple Scholars programs – via our usual methods of communication (including the MTI Scholarship and Golden Apple Scholars "Program News" areas, the FAA Message Board, and this e-Messaging service).

Submission of Alternative Applications Without Parent Data - Dependency Status Override
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, and MAP Users on April 16, 2020.

The next phase of the corrections process for the 2020-21 Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid – the ability to for a dependent student to complete and submit an application without parental information – is now available. The Alternative Application is used by RISE Act-eligible undocumented and transgender students to apply for the Monetary Award Program (MAP).

Applications Without Parent Information

An option was added to the online Alternative Application that allows dependent students experiencing special circumstances to indicate that they are "unable to provide information about my parents", and then continue with their application. If students select that option, a message advises them to contact the financial aid office at their school to discuss their circumstances.

Application data for students who do not provide parental information will be passed to schools through the Alternative Application Student Record. The records will be identified with a dependency status of "X" and a special circumstances flag of "1" (new to the Student Record Layout). The Alternative Application Student Record School File Layout Specifications contain these fields.

An expected family contribution (EFC) is not calculated for dependent students who do not provide parental information on their initial application.

School Action

Colleges should follow their usual policies and procedures for determining if a dependency override from dependent to independent status is appropriate for a student. Once a decision has been made, a request for a dependency override may be submitted to ISAC via the isac.schoolservices@illinois.gov e-mail address. Two ISAC-created templates to assist colleges are available through the Application Procedures for MAP page of the Gift Assistance Programs area of the website. One is a sample form that students can use to submit their dependency override request to the financial aid office for consideration. Colleges may use the form as is, or customize it to better fit their institutional policies. The other is the template that colleges should complete and submit to ISAC to request that a dependency override be made to a student's application.

Once the dependency override is processed by ISAC, an EFC will be calculated, a new transaction will be generated, and MAP eligibility will be determined based on the student's independent status. We anticipate being able to process override requests in the near future. In the meantime, any requests submitted will be held until processing begins.

Completing or Correcting Applications

In the event the student mistakenly selected that they were not able to provide parental information, the school should advise the student to make corrections to their application by entering through the "Returning Applicants Login" and providing the required parental data.

Please note that once students start an application, the system does not consider them a "First-Time Applicant", regardless of how much of the application was completed. If they need to access the application again – whether to complete an incomplete application or make corrections to a complete application – they must access their application through the "Returning Applicants Login".

As a reminder, for students needing assistance with the application, the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid User Guide is accessible from both the application home screen and the Student Profile Login page. It is also available, along with Alternative Application FAQ's, in the right-hand menu of the RISE Act web page.

Potential COVID-19 Issues

In situations where, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students are unable to provide the documentation the institution requires to make a dependency override decision, it is recommended that colleges instruct students to log in to their Alternative Application as a Returning Applicant and indicate that they are unable to provide parent data. This will allow students to complete and submit the application, and it will be assigned an initial application receipt date. At the point in time when the college is able to collect documentation from a student, and a dependency override decision can be made, the request can then be submitted to ISAC and an EFC will be calculated.

ISAC Update Webinar - April 22 and April 29
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, Public Schools - Participating in the ING Grant and IVG Programs, MAP Users, Business Officers, and FFELP Administrators on April 14, 2020.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) will offer an ISAC Update webinar for financial aid administrators on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 2 p.m. (CT), and we will offer a repeat of the webinar the following week on Wednesday, April 29 at 2 p.m. (CT).

To participate in the webinar, visit the Partner Training page in the e-Library at isac.org to access the webinar link and presentation materials, both of which will be posted on the day of the session. Registration is not required for the webinar, and any specific questions you would like the webinar to address may be submitted via e-mail to Kimberly.Eck@illinois.gov prior to the session.

2020-21 Budget Data Due June 1
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, Public Schools - Participating in the ING Grant and IVG Programs, and MAP Users on April 10, 2020.

Unless otherwise noted, links in this message are to corresponding pages at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) website (isac.org).

The annual reporting of postsecondary institutions' budget information to ISAC is underway. This message provides details regarding the manner in which colleges participating in the Monetary Award Program (MAP) and the Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) and Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant programs will submit required budget data for the 2020-21 processing cycle.

New for 2020-21 Budget Data Submission

System enhancements were made to the 2020-21 Budget Data submission function, and some instructions were expanded for better clarification.

  • New functionality allows colleges to upload the institution's tuition refund policy via the "School: Budget" area of the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal, rather than submitting it via mail or e-mail.
    • After the required refund policy has been uploaded, the user must click on the "Save" button in order to save the document.
    • The financial aid director (GAP Access Primary Administrator) cannot certify 2020-21 budget data until the institution's tuition refund policy document has been uploaded and saved.
  • Expanded instructions on data entry screens clarify reporting guidelines related to in-district vs. out-of-district charges, as well as hourly vs. flat-rate calculations.

2020-21 Budget Data Due June 1, 2020

Colleges will submit their 2020-21 budget data online via the "School: Budget" area of the GAP Access portal, which follows the same format that was used to report 2019-20 academic year data.

If a school's annual budget is not final by June 1, the budget data is to be submitted with estimated figures, followed by an e-mail from the financial aid director to ISAC's School Services Department that provides the approximate date by which the final budget will be submitted (must be on or before August 1, 2020).

General Institutional Information

Valid responses must be provided for Questions 1 and 2 of the "General Institutional Information" section. If you do not have a valid Program Participation Agreement (PPA), blank is a valid response. If Question 1 is checked, and/or a date is reported for Question 2, responses to all three questions are required before the budget can be certified. For Question 3, one of the buttons ("Yes" or "No") must be selected before the budget can be certified.

  1. Please check this box to confirm that this institution has a valid PPA with the U.S. Department of Education (ED). [Checkbox will appear here]
  2. This ED PPA expires: [mm/dd/yyyy field will appear here]
  3. Has your institution undergone a name or ownership change in the last 12 months? [Yes/No radio buttons will appear here]

Operational Details

  • Step-by-step instructions for accessing and navigating the GAP Access "School: Budget" screens are provided on the Gift Assistance Budget Instructions page (and may also be viewed in a separate browser window via a link in the top right corner of the "School: Budget" screens). After logging in to GAP Access, only those staff members who have been granted appropriate privileges will be able to access the "Budget" option from within the "School" area of the system.
  • After the budget information for all approved codes and all approved programs has been entered, saved and confirmed and the institution's tuition refund policy has been uploaded and saved, the financial aid director will need to submit the data by selecting the "Certify" button.
  • Budget data must be reported for each approved program (MAP, IVG and/or ING Grant), and each approved school code within a program, before it is certified.
  • If you have questions concerning the online process of submitting budget data to ISAC, please contact a School Services Representative at 866.247.2172 or isac.schoolservices@illinois.gov.

Do You Want to Change How Your MAP Awards are Calculated?

Schools have a choice in how MAP term awards are calculated. Awards may be split evenly between terms or be split by whole dollar amounts. For example, if a semester school has elected to use the "cents" option, an annual award of $4521.00 is split evenly between terms as an award of $2260.50. If the school chooses to use the "no cents" option, the annual award of $4521.00 would be $2260.00 for the first term and $2261.00 for the second term. A definition of the "cents" or "no cents" option for quarter schools can be found at the above link.

The majority of schools calculate term awards by the "cents" option, but if you're interested in switching to the "no cents" option (or vice versa), simply send an e-mail message to isac.schoolservices@illinois.gov prior to June 1, 2020.

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Spring Term Military Programs Claim Dates Extended
Sent on April 17, 2020.

In order to provide flexibility to colleges during these unusual times, ISAC is extending the priority claim dates for the Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant and Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Programs. Spring term benefit usage data for the 2019-20 ING Grant and IVG programs is now due on or before Friday, May 29, 2020.

Although ISAC is not able to reimburse institutions for 2019-20 military program awards, reporting of benefits used must still take place so that usage can be accurately reflected on students' accounts. Benefit usage data for the programs is submitted by colleges via functionality within each program's system, allowing colleges to report students' enrollment hours and benefit dollar amounts for initial, in-district and out-of-district requests. Further details are provided in the ING Grant and IVG User Guides.

While new data could potentially be available on a daily basis, the college may not have students that appear in the systems each day. It is recommended that each program's system be checked at least once a week for new student data that may have been posted.

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March 2020 Electronic ISAC Update
Sent on April 3, 2020.

The March 2020 edition of the ISAC Update 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 version of the electronic ISAC Update is a compilation of e-Messages sent to financial aid administrators and business officers via ISAC's e-Messaging service over the past month.

Topics covered in the March 2020 ISAC Update include:

  • 2019-20 MAP Payment Update
    (sent March 26, 2020)
  • ISAC Updates Webinar Repeated on Friday, March 27
    (sent March 25, 2020)
  • 2019-20 MAP Suspense: Second Limited Release
    (sent March 24, 2020)
  • ISAC Update Webinar – Wednesday, March 25
    (sent March 19, 2020)
  • ED Issues Coronavirus Guidance
    (sent March 12, 2020)
  • Alternative Application Corrections Process Open
    (sent March 10, 2020)
  • Time Is Running Out – Submit Your Proposal
    (sent March 9, 2020)
  • MAP Second Term Claim Date Extended – March 13
    (sent March 3, 2020)
  • February 2020 Electronic ISAC Update
    (sent March 2, 2020)

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