JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

ISAC Update

VOL. 37, NO. 6F
December 2019

Messages sent to:   Multiple Subscription Groups
ISAC Update

Welcome to the December 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 December.

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


Update on RISE Act and Application
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, MAP Users, and Business Officers on December 20, 2019.

As we prepare for the implementation of the RISE Act, we are sharing some important information for you and your students.

The application for state aid for qualifying undocumented and transgender students that we have previously referred to as the "RISE Act Application" will now be called the "Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid." An additional tagline may be used to clarify that the application is "intended for qualifying undocumented and transgender students."

As a reminder, the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid is for state aid only, providing a pathway to apply for Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grants for qualifying undocumented students and for transgender students who are not eligible for federal financial aid because they did not register for selective service. Most Illinois students will still file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to simultaneously apply for federal, state and institutional aid, including MAP grants. In order to receive a MAP grant, all students, whether completing the FAFSA or the Alternative Application, must still meet the eligibility criteria of the MAP program itself.

The Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid will be available online for student access from ISAC's website on January 6th. This launch date will help ensure that all data from applications can be effectively collected and processed, and that the appropriate support services will be available with the launch.

Please note that ISAC is confident that a January 6th launch date will not in any way put eligible students at a disadvantage in applying for 2020-21 MAP grants.

While the application itself will have pre-screening questions to determine if a student is eligible to file the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, our communications have and will continue to encourage students to also consult their school counselor or financial aid office in determining whether they should complete the FAFSA or the Alternative Application. ISAC continues to offer free training sessions about the Alternative Application for financial aid officers, school counselors, and others who work directly with students. Watch for the announcement of upcoming webinars in a future e-Message.

We will be providing additional information as we move closer to the launch, including a link to the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid and to a short video about the RISE Act and the Alternative Application that you will be able to share with students and families.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact ISAC School Services as noted in the closing of this message. More information about the RISE Act and the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid is available on the ISAC website.


Coming Soon: Two-Factor Authentication for GAP Access
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, Public Schools - Participating in the ING Grant and IVG Programs, MAP Users, and Business Officers on December 18, 2019.

After the first of the year, ISAC is improving the security of the Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal with the implementation of two-factor authentication. This latest step in our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of shared data provides an additional level of security when logging into GAP Access by using:

  1. the GAP Access User ID and password and
  2. a single-use verification code obtained through an application (unique code generated for each log in).

Once implemented, the two-step process (a new unique code) will be required every time a user logs into GAP Access, and will be required for both School User and Administrator accounts. The previous 2-step authentication process that used challenge questions and answers will be discontinued at the time of setup for the new process. Setup screens are anticipated to be available in GAP Access beginning in mid-January.

Preparing for Two-Factor Authentication

Financial aid office staff are encouraged to start preparing now for the implementation of two-factor authentication by identifying the device (e.g., cell phone, tablet, or other compatible device) onto which one of three applications will be downloaded, and also determining which of those three applications best meets the needs of the office. Only one of the following available applications is necessary:

  • Google Authenticator
  • Microsoft Authenticator
  • Authy Authenticator

All applications are free and can be downloaded from either the Google Play Store or the Apple Store, will accommodate multiple users and are compatible with multiple devices. ISAC does not endorse or recommend one product over another. Contact your institution's IT staff for assistance in selecting an authenticator, as well as for technical support when downloading and using an application.

Overview

Here is a high-level overview of implementation of the two-factor authentication process:

  • Identify device to be used for authentication application
  • Choose one of three available applications
  • Download application onto device
  • Add GAP Access account to authenticator
  • Log in to GAP Access using six-digit verification code displayed on authentication application

Once the setup screens are available, a Two-Factor Authentication User Guide, for reference while setting up, will be posted in the GAP Access User Guides section of the website. A follow-up e-Message will notify colleges when the setup process can begin (anticipated for mid-January).


A Holiday Wish from ISAC
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 December 9, 2019.

Season's Greetings 2017

Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) staff wish our college partners a very happy holiday season.

As the new year approaches, we remain committed to serving you, your students, and all Illinois families by providing access to the information and financial assistance that can help students succeed in college.

Best wishes for a successful 2020.

ISAC's Holiday Schedule

In observance of the holidays, ISAC staff will be unavailable as indicated below:

Christmas Holiday Observation

  • After 2 p.m. (CT) on Tuesday, December 24, 2019
  • Wednesday, December 25, 2019

New Year's Holiday Observation

  • After 2 p.m. (CT) on Tuesday, December 31, 2019
  • Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Our offices will reopen the first business day immediately following each holiday.

Access the Financial Aid Administrators area anytime, or send an e-mail message to ISAC's School Services Department. With the exception of days when the ISAC offices are closed, ISAC staff will review and respond to messages during regular business hours of Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CT.

Processing Schedules

Click on the following link to access holiday processing schedules for Monetary Award Program (MAP) records.

MAP Records [System Availability (via GAP Access) and Payment Request Data]


RISE Act Implementation: Student Record File Layout
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, MAP Users, and Business Officers on December 4, 2019.

This message is the next in the series about the implementation of the Retention of Illinois Students & Equity (RISE) Act. Today's message announces the availability of the RISE Act Student Record School File Layout.

ISAC creates a RISE Act Student Record for each student who completes the RISE Act Application. The RISE Act Student Record contains all of the information reported on the RISE Act Application, much like the Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) provides all the information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

RISE Act application data that is critical to determining eligibility for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) is provided to schools in the Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal for each student who has listed that college as a school choice on the student's RISE Act Application.

Similar to how ISIR's are imported from the U.S Department of Education (ED), complete RISE Act Student Records may be uploaded to colleges' internal system(s). Reports can be extracted from the MAP system in GAP Access by selecting the File Extractions tab, choosing the RISE Act Student Record option from the Select Report drop down menu, and entering a date range of the records being requested.

RISE Act Student Record School File Layout in e-Library

The RISE Act Student Record School File Layout document – available through the Electronic Tools area (#8) of the e-Library for Partners – provides details about the following:

  • field names
  • length of the data fields
  • start and end positions for the data elements in the RISE Act Student Record.

The order of the data in the file layout follows the order in which the questions are asked on the RISE Act Application, and generally follows the order of the questions on the paper version of the 2020-21 FAFSA. The values and the formatting used on the RISE Act Student Record are the same as those used on the ISIR provided by ED for FAFSA applicants, unless otherwise noted.

Creating or uploading RISE Act Student Record files to colleges' internal systems is not required. Instead, the relevant student applicant data that is provided in GAP Access may be relied upon to administer MAP for both FAFSA and RISE Act Application applicants.

Upcoming RISE Act Webinars

During the month of December, we are offering four opportunities to participate in a RISE Act Implementation and the Application Process webinar. Choose one of these dates/times; the same 1-hour session will be presented each time.

  • Wednesday, December 11 @ 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 12 @ 10 a.m.
  • Wednesday, December 18 @ 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 19 @ 10 a.m.

To participate in one of the 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 webinar, and any specific questions you would like to be addressed may be submitted via e-mail to kimberly.eck@illinois.gov ahead of the session.

Questions

Questions about the RISE Act and related issues, including about the RISE Act Student Record School File Layout, can be directed to our School Services Representatives. Their contact information is included in the closing of all of our e-Messages. The School Services area is the central collection point for RISE Act inquiries and discussion items. We are compiling all inquiries that we receive and will continue to use that information as we develop processes and procedures.

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ISAC UPDATE


November 2019 Electronic ISAC Update
Sent on December 2, 2019.

The November 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 November 2019 ISAC Update include:

  • Commission Meeting to be Held Thursday, December 5 – No Executive Briefing
    (sent November 26, 2019)
  • Save the Date – Thursday, July 9, 2020
    (sent November 20, 2019)
  • RISE Act Implementation: 75-Hour MAP Limit Removal
    (sent November 19, 2019)
  • Upcoming ISAC Webinars
    (sent November 15, 2019)
  • RISE Act Implementation
    (sent November 1, 2019)
  • October 2019 Electronic ISAC Update
    (sent November 1, 2019)

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