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 October 1 prior to the academic year that starts on or after July 1. 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 2022-23 priority deadline date for returning applicants is December 1, 2021.

The Central Processing System (CPS), on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education (ED), uses the FAFSA data to determine the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) by using the Federal Methodology formula. 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 ten school choices on FAFSA on the Web or the four school choices on the paper FAFSA.

After completing a FAFSA (electronic or paper), students will receive an official output document called a Student Aid Report (SAR). An e-mail Notification of Processing is sent to the applicant within 1-3 days of processing with a link to access and print an electronic SAR (e-SAR), if the student provides an e-mail address. A SAR Acknowledgement is mailed to the applicant if the FAFSA is filed via FAFSA on the Web but an e-mail address is not provided. 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 electronic ISIR, or by the student on the SAR and mailed back to the CPS or electronically via FAFSA on the Web. Corrected applicant information is forwarded from the CPS to ISAC. ISAC maintains the student's most recent data in its system.

Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid

In some instances, Illinois students who are not eligible for federal financial aid [and do not file FAFSA] may apply for a MAP grant using the online Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid (Alternative Application), which is patterned after the FAFSA.

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 Alternative Application.

Additionally, the Alternative Application was originally used by transgender students who were disqualified for student aid for failure to register for Selective Service. Because failure to do so no longer disqualifies an applicant from receiving federal student aid, that obstacle is removed for transgender students who do not register. Transgender students may want to consider completing the FAFSA instead of the Alternative Application to maximize their financial aid opportunities, although they may choose the application process – FAFSA or Alternative Application – that best suits their individual situation.

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 2021-22 Operational Guide for Alternative Application Processing provides guidance for financial aid administrators on confirming MAP eligibility for students who meet the RISE Act criteria and includes 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. 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 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". An expected family contribution (EFC) 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 isac.schoolservices@illinois.gov e-mail address.

A sample form that can be used by students to submit a dependency override request to the financial aid office is available in the right-hand menu of this page. It can be used as is or customized by schools to better fit their own institutional policies and procedures. The template that colleges may use to submit a dependency override request to ISAC is also available in the right-hand menu.

After the dependency override is processed, an EFC 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 his 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 most current FSA Handbook at ifap.ed.gov.

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 a 2021-22 Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid (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 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 2021-22 academic year 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 a 2021-22 Alternative Application record 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 usual process of making adjustments through the U.S. Department of Education's process.

Online Resources