JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

FAFSA Symposium Wednesday, Septermber 29, 2021

Event Information

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s (ISAC) 3rd annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Symposium will take place virtually on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 from 9:00am – 3:00pm. at no cost to counselors, mentors, and members of the public. This event will offer practitioners the opportunity to strengthen supports for students around financial aid application completion and highlight FAFSA completion efforts across the state.

The FAFSA Symposium also provides an opportunity for schools to share best practices for supporting students in completing the FAFSA or the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid. Topics covered in this year's symposium will address the following themes:

  • Navigating financial aid application completion amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Collaborating and leveraging partnerships to improve financial aid application completion
  • Innovative strategies for increasing financial aid application completion
  • Resources to support financial aid application completion

Agenda & Registration

The agenda for the day is below. Registration is free but required. Click on the corresponding “Register Now” button to register for the session you would like to attend. Unless otherwise noted, all sessions, other than the Welcome and Closing general sessions, run concurrently.

All sessions will be recorded so you can return to this webpage 1-2 weeks after the conference to view any sessions you missed!

9:00 – 10:00am Welcome & General Session

This session will provide a general update on state and federal financial aid programs, guidelines, and policy updates, including but not limited to: 2022-23 key changes to the FAFSA and the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid; FAFSA Mandate; impacts of COVID-19 on financial aid, and more.

Speakers: Eddie Brambila, Sara Espinosa, and Kim Eck, Illinois Student Assistance Commission

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10:15 – 11:00am Session 1

Strategies for Financial Aid Application Completion and Workshops

Helping students understand and utilize resources for post-secondary planning is vital, especially those that assist students in affording college and understanding available options. With the first year of the FAFSA Mandate taking place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was necessary to rethink how to support and share resources with students about their postsecondary options. West Aurora High School, a large, diverse high school with 3700+ students, took several different approaches to address these challenges, which will be used during this second year, too. This session will focus on the new approaches and the steps taken to increase financial aid application completion and help students learn about opportunities for future success.

Speakers: Sue Fowler, West Aurora High School

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Overview of ISAC’s Teaching Programs

This interactive session will give participants an in-depth overview of the teaching programs administered by ISAC. Participants will learn about eligibility criteria, award amounts, teaching requirements, and how to apply for each program available.

Speakers: Tania Mendoza, ISAC Program Services and Compliance

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11:15am – 12:00pm Session 2

Leveraging your Learning – Supporting Financial Aid Application Completion as a School Counseling Intern

Counseling interns are valuable members of a school’s student services team and can play a useful role in expanding financial aid completion efforts. This session outlines how counseling interns can support students with financial aid application completion and the benefits of involving interns in financial aid application completion efforts. Free resources for training interns on financial aid applications as well as strategies that interns can implement to support students with financial aid application will be discussed.

Speakers: Anna Foecking, Scott Deutsch, and Kalene Heaton, Elk Grove High School

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Navigating FAFSA Verification and Professional Judgment

This interactive session will engage participants in exploring purpose, desired outcomes, and documentation associated with FAFSA verification. Participants will also engage in strategies to advocate for families with changes in financial situation or students in need of dependency appeals.

Speakers: Maureen “Mo” Amos, Northeastern Illinois University

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Strategies for Supporting First Generation College Students with FAFSA

First-generation college students face additional barriers when applying for college and financial aid. Join our session to learn more about strategies for helping students and their families complete FAFSA. During this session we will share Cristo Rey Jesuit High School's approach, which includes various workshops offerings, prep work ahead of workshops, information in both English and Spanish, and parent/guardian buy-in.

Speakers: Reina Garcia, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School

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12-1 pm Lunch Break

1:00 – 1:45pm Session 3

Utilizing U.S. Financial Aid Abroad

Many international universities accept U.S. Financial Aid and will help their students in the loan process! This session will explain the process of applying for U.S. Financial Aid at a university abroad, demonstrating that international education can be for everyone! We will highlight the similarities and differences between using federal loans at domestic and international universities and will emphasize an often-overlooked feature of FAFSA – it’s huge versatility across the world.

Speakers: Bridie Troy, University College Dublin

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The College Changes Everything (CCE) Campaign & the ISACorps

The College Changes Everything Campaign utilizes college application and financial aid completion workshops to assist students with their pursuit of a postsecondary credential. Through the campaign, students who typically apply late or don’t apply at all are encouraged to do so in a timely manner. In this session you will learn how the ISACorps supports participating schools and community-based-organizations and their students.

Speakers: Abel Montoya, ISAC College Access and Outreach Division

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2:00 – 2:45pm Open Forum & Closing

This question-and-answer session will give FAFSA Symposium attendees an opportunity to ask questions of ISAC staff from various departments.

Speakers: Sara Espinosa, Kim Eck, and Abel Montoya, Illinois Student Assistance Commission

Moderator: Manuel Talavera, Illinois Student Assistance Commission

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