JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Application Procedures for MAP

{ISAC Rules, Section 2735.30}

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)
Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid
Students Correcting Alternative Applications
Dependency Status Overrides
Financial Aid Administrators Correcting Alternative Applications

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) serves as the application for the MAP grant. Each student who reports Illinois as their state of legal residence automatically applies for MAP when completing the FAFSA annually. The FAFSA should be completed as soon as possible after it becomes available* for the academic year for which assistance is being requested. Returning MAP recipients (i.e., students who received MAP funds during the prior academic year and continue to meet all eligibility requirements) who submit their FAFSAs by that academic year’s priority deadline date (set by ISAC annually) will receive priority access to appropriated MAP funds.

The FAFSA Processing System (FPS) – known as the Central Processing System (CPS) prior to the 2024-25 processing cycle – on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), uses the FAFSA data to determine the student’s Student Aid Index (SAI) – or, theExpected Family Contribution (EFC) prior to the 2024-25 processing cycle – which is then used to measure the student's (and, if applicable, the family's) ability to pay for college. The student's family financial information (the FAFSA data) is made available to ISAC to calculate MAP eligibility. MAP award calculations will be done only for those Illinois students who list a MAP eligible school as one of their school choices* on the FAFSA.

After completing a FAFSA (electronic or paper), students will receive an official output document called a FAFSA Submission Summary – or, a Student Aid Report (SAR) prior to the 2024-25 processing cycle. Details regarding these output documents are provided on the FAFSA Submission Summary page and the Student Aid Report (SAR) page, both located within the e-Library. The schools that are listed by the student on the FAFSA receive the same data electronically via an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR). Corrections to data must be made by the school via the FAFSA Partner Portal, or by the student via either the online FAFSA or the paper FAFSA Submission Summary document (specific details are provided on the How To Correct or Update Your FAFSA Form page at the StudentAid.gov website). Corrected applicant information is forwarded from the FPS to ISAC. ISAC maintains the student's most recent data in its system.

* Due to the FAFSA Simplification Act, which was enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022:

  • up to 20 different colleges may be listed on the online 2024-25 FAFSA, and have information sent to them (up to ten school choices may be listed on the online 2023-24 FAFSA); and
  • the 2024-25 FAFSA first became available in December 2023 (rather than in October, which is the typical timeframe).

Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid

Undocumented Illinois students who are not eligible for federal student aid, and do not file the FAFSA, may apply for the MAP grant using the online Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid (Alternative Application).

More information is available at the RISE Act page.

ISAC will not select Alternative Application records for verification, however, colleges are expected to confirm that students meet all MAP eligibility criteria and to resolve any conflicting information they become aware of during the MAP awarding and disbursement process. To assist colleges with this process, the Operational Guide for Alternative Application Processing (available for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 processing cycles) provides guidance for financial aid administrators on confirming MAP eligibility for students who meet the RISE Act criteria and include references to related rules and regulations.

Students Correcting Alternative Applications

Applicants are able to correct previously-submitted application data online to correct errors that were made in the initial application submission. Please note that once students start an application, the system does not consider them a "First-Time Applicant", and if they need to access the application again - whether to complete an incomplete application or make corrections to a complete application - they must follow the access instructions below.

Corrections are submitted by the student through the “Returning Applicants Login” on the application home screen. To access their online application, students need their ISAC Student Profile user name (which is their e-mail address) and password. Corrections may be made as needed to as many application fields as necessary. To complete and submit the corrected application, the application must be electronically signed with the previously-provided PIN(s). Depending on the information changed, either the student alone or both the student and their parent (of dependent students) will need to sign the application after making the corrections or updates.

  • Correction to student information – student must electronically sign
  • Correction to parent information – student and parent must electronically sign
  • Corrections to both student and parent information – both must electronically sign

Students who need assistance with making application corrections can refer to the online Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid User Guide (available for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 processing cycles). The User Guide is accessible from both the application home screen and the Student Profile Login page, and is also available, along with Alternative Application FAQ’s, in the right-hand menu of the RISE Act web page.

Dependency Status Overrides

Students who are unable to provide parental information on their Alternative Applications can indicate this while they are completing the online application. Selecting the "unable to provide information about my parents" option (on the 2023-24 Alternative Application) or answering “yes” to the “Do unusual circumstances prevent the student from contacting their parents or would contacting their parents pose a risk to the student?” question (on the 2024-25 Alternative Application) generates a message advising the student to contact the financial aid office of their college to discuss their circumstances. After selecting this option, the students may proceed with completing the application.

Once the application has been signed and submitted to ISAC, the student data is passed to schools through the Alternative Application Student Record. The records are identified with a dependency status of "X" and a special circumstances flag of "1". No EFC (for 2023-24 applications) or SAI (for 2024-25 applications) is is not calculated for dependent students who do not provide parental information on their initial application.

After following normal school policies and procedures for determining if a dependency override from dependent to independent status is appropriate, colleges may make the adjustment in GAP Access. A request for the override also may be submitted to ISAC via the [email protected] e-mail address.

After the dependency override is processed, an EFC (for 2023-24 applications) or SAI (for 2024-25 applications) is calculated and a new transaction will be generated in the MAP system. Eligibility for a MAP award will then be determined based on the student's independent status.

Examples of situations that may qualify for a dependency override include, but are not limited to:

  • abandonment by parents
  • an abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety, or
  • the student being unable to locate their parents.

Examples of acceptable documentation to collect from the student include:

  • A detailed, signed and dated personal statement explaining the unique and/or special family circumstance
  • Legal documentation such as police reports or court orders
  • Statements from third-party professionals such as social workers, medical professionals, clergy members, or counselors
  • Statements from objective third parties such as employers or supervisors.

For more guidance on special circumstances, professional judgments and acceptable documentation, see the Application & Verification Guide in the appropriate year’s FSA Handbook at the FSA Partner Connect Knowledge Center.

Financial Aid Administrators Correcting Alternative Applications

Within the MAP system of the GAP Access portal, colleges have the ability to make corrections and submit professional judgment adjustments for students who have submitted an Alternative Application.

"Professional Judgment" and "Application Correction" tabs are available on the Student Detail: Eligibility screen in the MAP system, where colleges may access a student's application record and make corrections or adjustments to previously-submitted data. By selecting either of these tabs, most of the information on the application can be updated, with the exception of these data elements: ISAC ID Number, student e-mail address, parent e-mail address, and school choices/codes.

During the update process, messaging will appear if data is removed from a required data field, and the user will not be able to proceed to the next page until required information has been entered. Once all changes are entered, the "Submit" button must be selected to complete the update process. If updated data is not submitted at the time of entry, all changes will be lost; they cannot be saved to be submitted at a later time. Updates are processed nightly and results are available the following business day.

Students are able to make corrections to their Alternative Application as well, however, ISAC will only process one correction/update in a business day, so both the college and the student cannot make corrections or updates on the same day. Each time a correction or update is made to an Alternative Application record, a new transaction will be generated and all colleges listed on the student's application will be able to view the new transaction. Students will be notified by ISAC via e-mail whenever an update is made to their application. For transactions that are generated as the result of a professional judgment adjustment, an indicator will be provided on the Student Detail screen.

Colleges will follow their usual policies and procedures for determining if a professional judgment determination is appropriate for a student. Information regarding the justification for a dependency override or EFC (for 2023-24 applications) or SAI (for 2024-25 applications) adjustment and supporting documentation must be retained in the student’s file, and is not to be submitted to ISAC.

Summary of steps for making a correction or professional judgment adjustment in GAP Access:

  • Select the academic year (2023-24 or 2024-25) on the MAP system home screen.
  • Navigate to the Student Detail screen by entering the student's ISAC ID number in the SSN field on the MAP home screen.
    • Or, from the Student List screen, select the Student Detail icon to navigate to the Student Detail screen.
      • If unsure of a student’s ISAC ID number, use the Filter function in the MAP system to filter by the student's name.
  • If there is more than one transaction for the student, identify which transaction is the basis for the correction process.
  • On the Student Detail: Eligibility screen, select either the "Professional Judgment" or "Application Correction" tab and begin the process of updating the application.
    • When making a Professional Judgment adjustment, the option to perform a dependency override is associated with Section 3 of the application where FAAs will have the option to provide/update parental data or continue with a dependency override.
  • Review all changes and click on the Submit button to complete the update process.
  • Review the new transaction on the next business day to ensure corrections/updates processed as expected.

Reminders:

  • GAP Access users must have the appropriate level of access to make updates in the MAP system.
    • Access is granted and updated by the college's GAP Access Administrator(s).
  • If the "Professional Judgment" and "Application Correction" tabs do not appear on the Student Detail screen, confirm that an Alternative Application record for the appropriate year (2023-24) was accessed.
  • The MAP system is available each day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (CT).
  • For students who have completed a FAFSA, colleges follow the U.S. Department of Education's 2023-24 or 2024-25 FAFSA corrections process.

Online Resources

  • For additional assistance with accessing and navigating the MAP system, see the corresponding chapter of the MAP User Guide:
  • For assistance with activating and managing GAP Access users, see the GAP Access User Guides for step-by-step instructions.
  • See the Alternative Application Student Record School File Layout document, available by processing year within the Electronic Tools section of the e-Library, for information on the data elements provided on student record files.