JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

ISAC Update

VOL. 38, NO. 7F
January 2021

Messages sent to:   Multiple Subscription Groups
ISAC Update

Welcome to the January 2021 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 January.

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


Illinois 60 by 25 Network – Registration Now Open: Free, Virtual Annual Conference
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, Public Schools – Participating in the ING Grant and IVG Programs, MAP Users, and Business Officers on January 28, 2021.

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

Register now for the 2021 Illinois 60 by 25 Network annual conference: Forward Together – Navigating Uncertainty and Advancing to 60% by 2025. We have re-imagined this year's online conference and will bring the high-quality conference content you have counted on since 2014 over four days, February 22-25, 2021. To view the conference agenda and register for sessions, please visit the conference website.

Thanks to our virtual setting, there is no cost to attend this year. (Hint: This is the year to invite a colleague to join you!) We've spaced out the sessions so you can keep pace with your work demands between speakers. There are specific sector networking opportunities on Wednesday (February 24th) to connect with others to share your experiences and learn how colleagues across the state are navigating similar challenges. Register for each plenary and breakout session individually, allowing you to customize your experience. Be sure to download the calendar invite once you've registered, which is unique to your registration. As such, please do not forward it to anyone else; instead, share the original registration link so that colleagues can register themselves.

The Illinois 60 by 25 Network was launched in 2013 by three Network Organizers: Advance Illinois, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University (EdSystems), and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). The goal of the Network is to support communities to increase meaningful and equitable postsecondary attainment.


Upcoming Important Dates 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 January 20, 2021.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) would like to make you aware of the following information, which may be of interest to you and/or your students.

Unless otherwise noted, links in this message are to corresponding pages at ISAC's website (isac.org).

You may either scroll through the remainder of this message, or click on the appropriate link(s) to go directly to a specific section:

COVID-19 Resources and Updates

General Information (Not Specific to One Academic Year)

2019-20 (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020)

2020-21 July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021)

2021-22 (July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022)

COVID-19 RESOURCES AND UPDATES

Although we are working differently during this time, we want to remind students, families, our partners and other constituents that ISAC continues to be here to answer your questions and to support all Illinoisans with college planning and financial aid. Find important resources and the latest updates at the College-Going and Financial Aid Resources and Services During the Coronavirus Outbreak page of our website.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Upcoming Webinars

ISAC staff will offer the following webinars during the first quarter of 2021:

  • January 27 at 2 p.m. (CT) – ISAC Update
  • February 24 at 2 p.m. (CT) – An Overview of MAP and GAP Access
  • March 31 at 2 p.m. (CT) – An Overview of ISAC's Military Programs

Further details, including instructions for participating in the webinars, are provided in a January 19 e-Message.

March 23-April 8: ILASFAA All-Virtual Annual Conference

Mark your calendar for the 52nd Illinois Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (ILASFAA) annual conference. Horizons of Opportunity: Waves of Change will be an all-virtual event that takes place March 23 through April 8, 2021. For the latest updates, visit the ILASFAA website (ilasfaa.org).

April 15: Next Commission Meeting

The next meeting of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Further details, including a listing of tentative agenda items, will be available prior to the meeting via the ISAC's Governing Board: The Commission section of the About ISAC area.

Visit the Commission Meeting Schedule page for information regarding all meetings scheduled in 2021.

Holiday Schedules

ISAC staff will be unavailable for these holidays:

  • Friday, February 12, 2021 – Lincoln's Birthday
  • Monday, February 15, 2021 – Presidents' Day

Staff will again be available the first business day immediately following each holiday.

Processing Schedules

Although ISAC staff will be unavailable on the days listed above, the Monetary Award Program (MAP) system will be available during regularly scheduled hours and will reflect records processed by the Central Processing System (CPS) through the last business day immediately preceding each respective holiday. Results for payment requests submitted from 5 p.m. (CT) the business day prior to the holiday through 5 p.m. (CT) the business day following the holiday will be available via the MAP system on the morning of the second business day after the holiday.

For Assistance

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 ISAC staff members are unavailable, we will review and respond to messages during regular business hours of Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CT.

2019-20 ACADEMIC YEAR

As Soon as Possible: Verify and Submit Enrollment Status Data for Teacher Programs

Colleges are still encouraged to verify and submit award recipients' current enrollment status data for the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship and Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver (SETTW) programs as soon as possible, even though the data was due to ISAC on December 18, 2020. As a reminder, the functionality for reporting enrollment status data, for students who previously received funds from these ISAC-administered teacher programs, has transitioned from My Zone to the ISAC Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal. No functional or operational changes were made – only the platform used to report the data has changed.

As Soon as Possible: Submit 2020 MAP Advising Data

While 2020 MAP Advising Data was due August 7, 2020, ISAC continues to accept the required information – including the institution's available advising and support programs (for the 2019-20 academic year) and course completion data (for the 2018-19 academic year) – through the GAP Access portal. Colleges that have not yet submitted 2020 data are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

2020-21 ACADEMIC YEAR

As Soon as Possible: Submit Certifications and/or Claims for MTI Scholarship and Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Programs

Payment requests (claims) for the 2020-21 MTI Scholarship and Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois programs continue to be accepted. Although specific priority claim deadlines have not been established for these programs, colleges are encouraged to submit first- and second-term claims as soon as they are able to do so.

Submitting claims via the MTI and Golden Apple systems is a two-step process that involves first generating the request (either individually or in a batch) and then submitting the request. Further details are available in the MTI and Golden Apple user guides.

In addition, colleges are encouraged to continue certifying eligibility for 2020-21 MTI Scholars. Remember that the Golden Apple Foundation, rather than colleges, certifies eligibility for Golden Apple Scholars (colleges can see whether a student has been certified by viewing the "Student List Eligibility: View" screen within the Golden Apple system).

The timely submission of certifications, initial claims, and cancellations/adjustments for previously-submitted data allows ISAC staff to monitor remaining MTI Scholarship and Golden Apple funds and award other students, as applicable.

See the January 8 e-Message for additional details.

March 1: Spring-Term Application Deadline for ING Grant

Remind your students that March 1, 2021 is the spring- and summer-term application deadline for the 2020-21 Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant Program. Students may access the application via the Interactive Applications (Apply Online) section of the Applications page. Applications received after March 1 will be considered for summer term only awards.

March 1: Spring-Term Application Deadline for Grant Programs for Dependents of Police, Fire, or Correctional Officers

Remind your students that March 1, 2021 is the spring- and summer-term award deadline for the 2020-21 Grant Program for Dependents of Police, Fire, and Correctional Officers. Students may access the application via the Downloadable Applications (Printable PDF) section of the Applications page. Applications received after March 1 will be considered for summer term only awards.

March 5: MAP First- and Second-term Claims Due

Colleges may submit 2020-21 MAP claims for the first and second terms via the MAP system and File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

In order to be considered for payment, all 2020-21 MAP second-term claims must be submitted to ISAC no later than Friday, March 5, 2021.

In addition, late first-term claims are currently being accepted and will continue to be paid through the second-term priority claim deadline (March 5, 2021).

Further details are provided in a January 5 e-Message.

April 9: ING Grant Spring-Term Benefit Usage Data Due

ISAC continues to accept benefit usage data for the 2020-21 ING Grant Program.

Effective January 4, 2021, colleges may submit ING Grant benefit usage data for the spring term via the ING Grant system, reporting students' enrollment hours and benefit dollar amounts for initial, in-district and out-of-district requests. ING Grant spring-term benefit usage data is due to ISAC by April 9, 2021.

Note that, even though the fall-term deadline has passed, colleges are still encouraged to submit initial benefit usage data and corrections for the fall term as soon as possible.

Reporting of military program benefits used for all terms still must take place so that usage can be accurately reflected on students' accounts, regardless of the fact that ISAC is not able to reimburse institutions for 2020-21 awards.

See the January 8 e-Message, as well as the ING Grant User Guide, for additional details.

May 28: IVG Spring-Term Benefit Usage Data Due

ISAC continues to accept benefit usage data for the 2020-21 Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program.

Effective January 4, 2021, colleges may submit IVG benefit usage data for the spring term via the IVG system, reporting students' enrollment hours and benefit dollar amounts for initial, in-district and out-of-district requests. IVG spring-term benefit usage data is due to ISAC by May 28, 2021.

Note that, even though the summer- and fall-term deadlines have passed, colleges are still encouraged to submit prior-term initial benefit usage data and corrections as soon as possible.

Reporting of military program benefits used for all terms still must take place so that usage can be accurately reflected on students' accounts, regardless of the fact that ISAC is not able to reimburse institutions for 2020-21 awards.

See the January 8 e-Message, as well as the IVG User Guide, for additional details.

2021-22 ACADEMIC YEAR

March 1: MTI Scholarship Application Deadline

Remind your students who plan to pursue a career in teaching that March 1, 2021 is the priority application consideration date for the 2021-22 MTI Scholarship Program. Students may access the application via the Interactive Applications (Apply Online) section of the Applications page. Complete applications received after March 1 will be considered only if funding remains after all timely complete applicants have been awarded. Encourage all minority students who meet the program's eligibility requirements to apply as soon as possible.

March 1: Illinois SETTW Application Deadline

Public four-year institutions: remind your students who plan to pursue a career in teaching that March 1, 2021 is the priority application consideration date for the 2021-22 SETTW Program. Students may access the application via the Interactive Applications (Apply Online) section of the Applications page. Complete applications received after this date will be considered only if tuition waivers remain after all timely complete applicants have been awarded.

FAFSA® Still Available

The 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is still available online, and – if not already done – should be completed and submitted as soon as possible by students who will be attending college between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. FAFSA results are used to determine eligibility for several forms of federal, state and institutional financial assistance, including the Illinois MAP grant.

Details regarding the 2021-22 application cycle may be accessed by counselors and other professionals via the Applying for Financial Aid section of the e-Library for Partners.

Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid Available

Undocumented students and transgender students meeting the criteria of the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act may file the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid – which is patterned after the FAFSA and available in English and Spanish – to apply for the MAP grant. Further details are provided at ISAC's RISE Act page.


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 January 19, 2021.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) will offer the following webinars for financial aid administrators during the first quarter of 2021:

  • January 27 at 2 p.m. – ISAC Update
  • February 24 at 2 p.m. – An Overview of MAP and GAP Access
  • March 31 at 2 p.m. – An Overview of ISAC's Military Programs

To participate in these webinars, 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 webinars, and any specific questions you would like a webinar to address may be submitted via e-mail to Tania.Mendoza@illinois.gov prior to the session.


2020-21 Spring-Term Claims & Benefit Usage
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, Public Schools – Participating in the ING Grant and IVG Programs, and Business Officers on January 8, 2021.

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

The ISAC Gift Assistance Programs (GAP) Access portal – which includes the electronic processing systems for the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship, Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois, Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant and Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) programs – is available for submission of the spring-term records discussed below.

Submit 2020-21 Claims/Benefit Usage Data for the Spring Term

Colleges are encouraged to submit spring-term certifications and payment requests (claims) for the 2020-21 MTI Scholarship and Golden Apple programs, as well as spring-term benefit usage data for the 2020-21 ING Grant and IVG programs, as soon as possible.

The following information is provided to assist colleges in the administration of these programs.

MTI Scholarship and Golden Apple

  • Submitting claims is a two-step process, which involves generating the request (either individually or in a batch) and then submitting the request.
  • Because the Golden Apple Foundation completes certification for Golden Apple recipients, any adjustment to a student's academic level during the award year that would impact a student's award amount must be reported to the Golden Apple Foundation so that they can update the student's certification record. Once the certification record has been updated, the college will be able to submit a claim for the updated award amount. The contact person at the Foundation is Cheryl Flores (flores@goldenapple.org).
  • MTI Scholarship and Golden Apple results for claims received will be available via each program's electronic processing system. After vouchers are generated, they are sent via e-mail to financial aid directors.
  • The disbursement of funds is processed by the State Comptroller's Office. Refer to the State Comptroller's Website page, located within the Processes section of the Financial Aid Administrators area, for information on how to track payment.
  • Because Payment Offset and Reconciliation procedures apply to the MTI Scholarship and Golden Apple programs, refund checks should not be sent for cancellations/adjustments made throughout the award year. Funds should only be returned to ISAC after a final reconciliation has been completed at the end of the regular school year.
  • Although specific payment deadlines have not been established for these programs, colleges are always encouraged to submit claims as soon as they are able to do so.
    • The timely submission of claims and cancellation/adjustment data allows ISAC staff to monitor remaining funds and award other students, as applicable.
  • The MTI Scholarship and Golden Apple systems are available each day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (CT).
    • MTI Scholarship and Golden Apple claims submitted by 7 p.m. (CT) will be included in that night's processing, with payment results available the next business day.
    • Results for claims submitted after 7 p.m. (CT) will be included in the following night's processing.
  • More information regarding online certification (for the MTI Scholarship Program) and payment functionality (for both programs), including detailed instructions, is available at the following locations on ISAC's website:

ING Grant and IVG

  • Spring-term deadline dates are as follows:
    • ING Grant benefit usage data for the spring term must be submitted on or before Friday, April 9, 2021; and,
    • IVG benefit usage data for the spring term must be submitted on or before Friday, May 28, 2021.
  • Benefit usage data for the ING Grant and IVG programs is submitted to ISAC by colleges via the benefit usage 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.
  • Although ISAC is not able to reimburse institutions for 2020-21 ING Grant or IVG awards, reporting of benefits used must still take place so that usage can be accurately reflected on students' accounts.
  • The ING Grant and IVG systems are available each day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (CT).
  • 160-byte file layout specifications for the 2020-21 ING Grant and IVG programs, describing the file layout to be used to send data for each program via FTP, are available within the Electronic Tools section of the e-Library for Partners.
  • More information, including detailed instructions, is available at the following locations:

Watch for Future Updates

Future program updates will be shared with colleges via ISAC's standard methods of communication, including: the MTI Scholarship, Golden Apple, ING Grant and IVG "Program News" areas; the FAA Message Board; and, this e-Messaging service.


2020-21 MAP Payment Updates
Sent to Financial Aid Directors, Financial Aid Administrators, MAP Users, and Business Officers on January 5, 2021.

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

The following information is being shared to assist colleges in the administration of the 2020-21 Monetary Award Program (MAP).

Second-Term MAP Payment Processing Now Open
(Claims due by March 5)

  • ISAC is accepting 2020-21 MAP payment requests (claims) for the second term.
  • Consistent with last year's timeframe, the 2020-21 MAP second-term priority claim deadline date is Friday, March 5, 2021.
  • The announcement of all 2020-21 MAP grants for eligible students with Central Processing System (CPS) Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) receipt dates, or initial ISAC Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid receipt dates, on or after August 1, 2020, remain in suspense status.
  • Specific details regarding the payment process are provided in the MAP Payment area, as well as in the "Payment" chapter of the MAP User Guide.
  • The ISAC staff continues to monitor fiscal year 2021 (FY21) appropriation levels and claim rates.
    • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on both revenue and expenditures for the State of Illinois, future adjustments to FY21 appropriations are possible.
    • Until such time as any necessary adjustments are announced, we will proceed with "business as usual" operations.
    • Colleges will be notified if ongoing analysis warrants changes to the claim deadline or suspense dates.

Payment of First-Term Late Claims

Following the recently-announced limited release of 2020-21 MAP award announcements in suspense status, we are pleased to inform you that late first-term claims are being paid and will continue to be paid through the second-term priority claim deadline of March 5, 2021.

Watch for Future Updates

Future MAP updates will be shared with colleges via ISAC's standard methods of communication, including the MAP Program News area, the FAA Message Board, and this e-Messaging service.

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ISAC UPDATE


December 2020 Electronic ISAC Update
Sent on January 4, 2021.

The December 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 December 2020 ISAC Update include:

  • Limited Release of 2020-21 MAP Suspense
    (sent December 22, 2020)
  • A Holiday Wish from ISAC
    (sent December 11, 2020)
  • Financial Aid 101 Workshops in December
    (sent December 4, 2020)
  • Submit 2020-21 Fall-Term Claims and Benefit Usage Data
    (sent December 3, 2020
  • November 2020 Electronic ISAC Update
    (sent December 1, 2020)

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