JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

ISAC Update

VOL. 37, NO. 5F
November 2019

Messages sent to:   Multiple Subscription Groups
ISAC Update

Welcome to the November 2019 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 November.

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

Questions?

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.


MULTIPLE SUBSCRIPTION GROUPS


Commission Meeting to be Held Thursday, December 5 – No Executive Briefing
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, and Public Schools - Participating in the ING Grant and IVG Programs on November 26, 2019.

The next regular meeting of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, December 5 at the Michael A. Bilandic Building in Chicago.

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

  • Program administrative rules amendments – Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program
  • State Legislative update
  • GEAR UP Program update
  • Fiscal year 2020 appropriated funds budget
  • College Illinois!® Prepaid Tuition Program investment and program updates

The Agenda Book, providing the complete listing of agenda items, is available via the 2019 Agenda Books page, 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.

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


Save the Date – Thursday, July 9, 2020
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 November 20, 2019.

CCE Conference Logo

Save the Date – Thursday, July 9, 2020

Please mark your calendars for the 2020 College Changes Everything® Conference – the state's premier college access and success event. This one day conference showcases best practices, collaborations, and resources available to promote and support student college and career readiness and 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. The conference will take place at the Tinley Park Convention Center, Tinley Park, Illinois.

A call for interest session proposals will go out in January. Please consider submitting a proposal to help make the conference a valuable professional development experience by sharing your knowledge and experience with colleagues from all over the state.

One of the strengths of the conference is that it brings together the diverse stakeholders from across the state needed for student success: college access practitioners; high school leaders, counselors, and case managers; college and university leaders and administrators; employers and workforce development professionals; and policy makers and elected officials interested in education and student outcomes. The conference also serves as an opportunity for stakeholders to improve their practice of collaboration and collective leadership as we work toward the state's goal.


2020 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
  • Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University
  • Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University
  • Generations Serving Generations
  • 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


RISE Act Implementation: 75-Hour MAP Limit Removal
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, MAP Users, and Business Officers on November 19, 2019.

This message is the second in the series about the implementation of the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act. The sole topic of today's message is the upcoming removal of the 75-hour limit on Monetary Award Program (MAP) paid credit hours.

As it currently applies to freshman and sophomore students, the 75-hour limit will be lifted on the RISE Act's effective date of January 1, 2020. Due to the mid-academic year effective date, the removal will impact only the spring semester/second and third quarters of the 2019-20 award year. 2019-20 fall term award amounts will not be impacted.

Removal of the limit will result in situations where students who were not MAP-eligible in the fall term may be eligible for spring term awards.

Identify Impacted Students Now

To prepare for the upcoming change in eligibility status, financial aid office staff may want to consider identifying and informing students who will be impacted now. A list of potentially impacted students can be obtained by creating a report within the MAP component of the Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal by:

  • using the "Reports" tab and clicking on "Create a New Report",
  • selecting "MAP Paid Credit Hours" from the list of report types, and
  • entering a range of the number of MAP paid credit hours.

Also, student records previously indicated as ineligible [V code (reached 75 MAP paid credit hours)] within the MAP system should be reviewed and considered for submission for payment.

Student Eligibility and Notification

As with all MAP awards, students eligible for MAP as a result of lifting the 75 hour limit, and whose financial aid awards are repackaged, must be informed of the change in their eligibility status by the college, including the estimated award amount. The ISAC-provided 2019-20 required school issued award letter language is to be utilized for this notification, however, the approved language is not being revised mid-year as a result of the removal of the limit, and should be used as originally provided for the 2019-20 award year. All other requirements regarding use of the approved language remain the same.

Additionally, ISAC is not providing suggested language for informing students of the reason for the change in eligibility status; colleges may use language of their choosing. Information about the removal of the 75-hour MAP paid credit hours limit is available for students' reference on both the RISE Act and MAP (Students & Parents) pages of our website.

No Change to Maximum MAP Paid Credit Hours

It is important to note that the overall maximum of 135 MAP paid credit hours remains in effect. Providing this information to students can create an opportunity to counsel them on the importance of steady progression toward their education goals, so any future MAP eligibility is not exhausted before their degrees are completed.

Questions

Questions about the RISE Act and any related issues can be directed to our School Services Representatives. Please see their contact information in the closing of this e-Message. The School Services area is the central collection point for RISE Act inquiries and discussion items. We are compiling all inquiries that are received and will use that information as we continue to develop processes and procedures.


Upcoming ISAC Webinars
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 November 15, 2019.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) will offer the following webinars for financial aid administrators during the fourth quarter of 2019:

  • November 20 at 2 p.m. – ISAC Operational Update
  • December – RISE Act Implementation and the Application Process (the same session will be presented on multiple dates):
    • December 11, 2 p.m.
    • December 12, 10 a.m.
    • December 18, 2 p.m.
    • December 19, 10 a.m.

To participate in these webinars, visit the Partner Training page in the e-Library for Partners 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 webinars, and any specific questions you would like a webinar to address may be submitted via e-mail to Kimberly.Eck@illinois.gov prior to the session.


RISE Act Implementation
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, MAP Users, and Business Officers on November 1, 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.

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ISAC UPDATE


October 2019 Electronic ISAC Update
Sent on November 1, 2019.

The October 2019 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 October 2019 ISAC Update include:

  • 2019-20 MTI & Golden Apple Payment Processing
    (sent October 18, 2019)
  • 2020-21 MAP Start-up Implementation
    (sent October 8, 2019)
  • 2020-21 FAFSA® and Important Dates
    (sent October 2, 2019)
  • September 2019 Electronic ISAC Update
    (sent October 1, 2019)

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