JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Illinois FAFSA Mandate: Training and Support

Public Act 101-180 (effective 6/01/20) 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 FAFSA completion, ISAC will be supporting these efforts.

Making FAFSA 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 FAFSA Mandate.

Financial Aid Forms:

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

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

FAFSA Mandate –ISBE Information and Documents:

FAFSA Non-Participation form--English: https://www.isbe.net/Documents/FAFSA-Non-Participation-Form.pdf

FAFSA Non-Participation form--Spanish: https://www.isbe.net/Documents/FAFSA-Non-Participation-Form-Spanish.pdf

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 https://www.isac.org/pd/webinars.html 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 https://www.isac.org/pd/training-workshops.html for our calendar of in-person events.

Request Training: If the dates for training workshops 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. See  https://www.isac.org/pd/training-requests.html

Please Note: In response to COVID-19, ISAC is monitoring the Illinois Department of Public Health’s guidance for safely resuming in person activities as we move forward. We currently do not have any in-person trainings on our schedule. If you request an in-person training, please note that as we get closer to the requested date, we will confirm with you that we can move forward with that training and that all IDPH requirements will be met.  If this is not possible, we will work with you to make any necessary accommodations to fulfill your request under current guidelines. 

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 for 2020, schools and community-based organizations agree to host a FAFSA workshop AND a college application workshop between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Visit https://www.collegechangeseverything.org/ccemonth/ to learn more.

ISAC FAFSA Completion Initiative: 

Through ISAC’s FAFSA data-sharing program, high schools can learn which of their students have not completed a FAFSA so counselors can focus their limited resources on helping students who have not yet filed the application. Schools upload their information into ISAC’s Gift Assistance Program Access Portal (GAP Access) and ISAC provides FAFSA 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 FAFSA 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