JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Illinois Financial Aid Application Requirement: Training and Support

Public Act 101-0180 (effective 6/01/2020) requires that, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, public high school students must complete the FAFSA or, as eligible, the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, as a prerequisite to receiving a high school diploma. A waiver provision basically allows a parent, guardian, or the student – if 18 or emancipated – to opt out for any reason.

Pursuant to the law, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will lead these efforts. However, because of ISAC’s deep experience in assisting students across the state with college planning, the financial aid process and financial aid application completion, ISAC will be supporting these efforts.

Making financial aid application completion part of an expectation for high school graduation can increase the number of students who are aware of the resources available to help them afford education or training after high school. This information can also help some students decide to attempt college when they might not otherwise have done so, and it may help some students limit student loan debt and take a fuller course load to more quickly complete a degree or credential.

Below are some free resources and training available to high schools, counselors and other professionals to help them help students and families meet the new financial aid application requirement.

Financial Aid Forms:

Free Application for Federal Student Aid: https://www.fafsa.gov/

Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid: http://www.isac.org/AlternativeApp

Financial Aid Application Requirement – ISBE Information and Documents:

The 2023-24 Financial Aid Application Nonparticipation Form will be available when the FAFSA/Alternative Application filing period begins. At that time, the Nonparticipation Form will be available only via the ISAC Student Portal. PDF versions of the Nonparticipation Form will be available only by request via e-mail to the Illinois State Board of Education.

For questions about the Financial Aid Application Requirement, e-mail fafsa@isbe.net.

ISBE & ISAC Introductory Presentation: Financial Aid Form Filing – The New Public HS Graduation Requirement in Illinois

ISAC Financial Aid Form Filing New Requirement

ISBE Financial Aid Form Filing New Requirement

Training/Professional Development:

Webinars: See our online webinars for upcoming FAFSA training and training on the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid. Sessions will be posted as they are scheduled, so check back often.

In-Person Training: See our in-person trainings for our calendar of in-person events.

Request Training: If the dates for in-person trainings or webinars do not fit your schedule, or if you would like training on specific topics, you may request training for groups of 10 or more by completing a Professional Development Request Form and submitting it to the Division of Capacity Development and Training at isac.outreachtraining@illinois.gov.

We will continue to offer virtual presentations as an option, but we are happy to announce our return to in-person presentations. We will do our best to accommodate requests for in-person presentations based on location and availability of staff. If you have any questions, please contact us at isac.outreachtraining@illinois.gov or isac.pace@illinois.gov.

College Changes Everything® Fall Financial Aid and College Admissions Campaign:

Since 2016, each year during College Changes Everything (CCE) Month in October and throughout the fall ISAC offers support for both college application activities and FAFSA/Alternative App completion. To be considered a CCE site, schools and community-based organizations agree to host a financial aid application completion workshop AND a college application workshop between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Visit https://www.collegechangeseverything.org/ccemonth/ to learn more.

ISAC Financial Aid Application Completion Initiative: 

Through ISAC’s financial aid application data-sharing program, high schools can learn which of their students have not completed a FAFSA or Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid so counselors can focus their limited resources on helping students who have not yet filed either application. Schools upload their information into ISAC’s Gift Assistance Program Access Portal (GAP Access) and ISAC provides financial aid application completion information directly back to the schools. Find out more about GAP Access at https://www.isac.org/gap-access/. If your high school is already signed up, you can see your school’s current financial aid application completion numbers at https://www.isac.org/home/fafsa/index.html.

Direct Assistance for Students and Families:

The ISACorps, a group of recent college graduates who are trained to serve as near-peer mentors for students, are available across the state to assist students and families with college planning and financial aid. The ISACorps provide one-on-one assistance as well as presentations and workshops.

Visit https://studentportal.isac.org/isacorps to find the ISACorps member in your area. Asistencia en español está disponible.

Get your college planning and financial aid questions answered via text with ISAC College Q &A, ISAC’s free text messaging service. Asistencia en español está disponible. http://www.isac.org/collegeqa