JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid FAQs

Q: Can anyone complete the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid?

A: No. This application is only for students who are not eligible for federal student financial aid, including for qualified undocumented students and for transgender students who are not eligible for federal financial aid because they did not register for selective service. Most students will still complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to apply for financial aid. If you are an undocumented student or a transgender student and you are not sure whether you should complete this Alternative Application or the FAFSA, the pre-screening questions at the beginning of the application will help you to determine which application you should file. We also encourage you to talk with your school counselor or the financial aid office at your college or university to help you decide which application to file.

Q: What kinds of financial aid can I receive by completing the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid?

A: The Alternative Application is currently an application only for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants and is only for qualified undocumented students and for transgender students who are not eligible for federal financial aid because they did not register for selective service. It is possible that some Illinois colleges or universities will use the information derived from the application to award institutional aid. The Alternative Application is NOT an application for federal student aid. Most students will still complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) in order to apply for both federal and state student financial aid, including MAP grants.

Q: What information/documents will I need to complete the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid?

A: The Alternative Application asks students and parents for similar information to the FAFSA. Documents and information you will need to complete the application include:

  • 2018 federal income tax returns, W-2’s, and other records of money earned
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • Transgender applicants who have a Social Security Number should be prepared to provide it in the pre-screening section of the application. (This will be used by ISAC for internal purposes only, such as to determine if a student has previously received MAP grant funding and if so, to calculate remaining MAP paid credit hours. This information will NOT be provided to colleges and universities as part of a student record. No social security number will be required for the application itself.)
  • List of up to 10 colleges you would like to attend.

Q: If I am eligible to complete and submit the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, does that mean I am guaranteed to get a MAP grant?

A: No. Being eligible to submit the Alternative Application makes it possible for you to apply for MAP grants, but like all students completing either the Alternative Application or the FAFSA, you still must meet the eligibility requirements for MAP to receive a grant.

Q: Can I file the FAFSA and the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid?

A: A student should complete EITHER the FAFSA or the Alternative Application, depending on their eligibility and other considerations in determining which application to file. A student should not complete both applications.

Q: Does my parents’ immigration status impact my eligibility for MAP and other state financial aid?

A: No. If you are eligible to apply for MAP through either the FAFSA or the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid and your parents do not have Social Security Numbers, they should enter all zeros in the SSN fields on either application.

Q: Should DACA students complete the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid?

A: If a DACA student meets the criteria specified by the RISE Act, they may be eligible to apply for state financial aid programs and would be able to apply for a MAP grant through the Alternative Application. Because the decision to apply for financial aid through the FAFSA or the Alternative Application involves a variety of considerations, it is a decision best made by the student together with a counseling or financial aid professional who is working directly with the student.

Q: Are transgender students who are U.S. citizens ineligible for federal financial aid? If so, why?

A: Being transgender does not, on its own, make a U.S. citizen ineligible for federal financial aid.

Federal law requires men age 18-25 who are U.S. citizens or are immigrants living in the U.S. to be registered with Selective Service in order to be eligible for federal financial aid. Transgender students who were assigned a male gender at birth but who now identify as female or non-binary are still required to register for selective service. A failure to do so will make these students ineligible for federal financial aid. By contrast, individuals who were assigned a female gender at birth and now identify as male or non-binary are not required to register. https://www.sss.gov/Registration-Info/Who-Registration

The RISE Act, which became effective on January 1, 2020, now allows transgender students who do not register for Selective Service to be eligible for Illinois state financial aid.

Because the decision whether to file a FAFSA or the Alternative Application involves a variety of considerations, it is best made by the student together with a counseling or financial aid professional who is working directly with the student.

Q: Does the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid have the same requirement as the FAFSA for men ages 18-25 to register with selective service?

A: Students do not certify selective service registration on the Alternative Application. However, like the federal requirement, men age 18-25 are required to register for selective service in order to receive a MAP grant. Note that this requirement to register for Selective Service applies both to U.S. citizens and to non-citizens, including undocumented students. (Information for immigrants and dual nationals regarding Selective Service registration is here: https://www.sss.gov/Registration/Immigrants-and-Dual-Nationals.)

The RISE Act, which became effective on January 1, 2020, now allows transgender students who do not register for Selective Service to be eligible for Illinois state financial aid.

Q: How is the information I provide on the Alternative Application protected? How will the information be used and who will it be shared with?

A: ISAC respects students’ right to privacy and is committed to ensuring that their personal, professional and financial information is secure.

Data Protection:

With respect to data protection, ISAC has taken numerous steps to help safeguard the integrity of our communications and computing infrastructure, including but not limited to authentication, monitoring, auditing, and encryption for all of our programs and applications. Security measures have been integrated into the design, implementation and day-to-day practices of the entire ISAC operating environment as part of our continuing commitment to risk management.

Data use and sharing:

The information collected on the Alternative Application pre-screening questions is used to determine eligibility to file the application and will be retained by ISAC and kept private according to the agency’s privacy policies. Data from the Alternative Application itself is used to calculate a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the eligible award amount for the Monetary Award Program (MAP). This information will be retained by ISAC and will be shared with the colleges a student selects on the application through ISAC’s secure portal that colleges use to administer ISAC programs.

Consistent with our privacy policies for all ISAC programs, ISAC does not share student information with other third parties unless the third party is an authorized agent of ISAC and the information will only be used in furtherance of a student’s financial aid request or for research purposes. Such third parties are subject to restrictions regarding data confidentiality, use and security.

Illinois law prohibits the public disclosure of names and addresses of students who receive aid through any of ISAC’s non-discretionary programs, including MAP. Aggregate financial aid applicant and recipient information (meaning, information that does NOT identify individual students), such as aggregate demographics and income levels, is shared publicly to support research that, for example, identifies how program funds benefit students. Please note that ISAC could be required to share individual student data pursuant to a valid subpoena or as required to investigate student aid fraud.