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

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 his/her 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 2020-21 priority deadline date for returning applicants was December 1, 2019. The 2021-22 priority deadline date for returning applicants is on or before December 1, 2020.

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, which is patterned after the FAFSA. More information is available at the RISE Act page of this website.  For these students, references to the FAFSA also apply to the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid throughout the remainder of RISE Act page.

ISAC will not select 2020-21 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 2020-21 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.

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

If financial aid office staff at the college become aware of a needed correction to the application information, the student must be contacted and advised to submit the necessary correction through the above-described process.

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.

The Alternative Application Student Record School File Layout, containing field descriptions for corrected data, is available from the Alternative Application Student Record School File Layout section of the MAP Electronic Processing page and in the Electronic Tools area of the e-Library.

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, a request for the override 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 should 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.