Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I apply?
- Complete the online Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver (SETTW) Program application. Read and follow the instructions carefully, including how to enter your data, download and print the application and corresponding Teaching Agreement/Promissory Note, and mail the signed document to ISAC.
- Once application data has been successfully submitted online, a confirmation page will display to verify the exact date and time it was received by ISAC. Important: please note that the application is not complete until the Application/Teaching Agreement/Promissory Note, with an original ink signature, is received at ISAC.
- Incomplete application data cannot be saved, and will not be submitted to ISAC. Once you start to complete the application online, you must fully complete all required fields and then submit the completed application data. If you are unable to fully complete all required fields, you will need to begin the online process again when you are ready to provide and submit all data.
- For priority consideration, complete applications (including an original ink signature) must be postmarked on or before March 1 preceding the academic year for which you are applying. All other applications will be processed in date-received order (based on the U.S. Postal Service postmark date), within program guidelines.
2. What are the selection criteria?
ISAC annually awards 250 tuition waivers.
- A maximum of 40 tuition waivers is awarded to qualified applicants who hold valid teaching licenses that are not in the discipline of special education. If more than 40 applicants qualify under these provisions, a lottery is used to select 40 recipients.
- A minimum of 105 tuition waivers is awarded to qualified applicants who graduated from high school prior to the academic year in which the award is made. If more than 105 applicants qualify under these provisions, a lottery is used to select 105 recipients.
- A minimum of 105 tuition waivers is awarded to qualified applicants scheduled to graduate from an approved high school in the academic year in which the award is made and who perform in the upper half of their class according to performance-based academic data provided by the high school at the end of the sixth semester. Recipients for this group are selected from among qualified applicants based on the highest ACT or SAT test scores from the appropriate time period. Any of the 145 tuition waivers not awarded under the provisions outlined in the two preceding bullets are awarded to this group.
3. How will I know if I am awarded a tuition waiver?
- The financial aid office at the school you indicated on your application will certify your eligibility to participate in the SETTW Program.
- Your school must certify your eligibility for the tuition waiver before an award is determined. You will be considered a qualified applicant if ISAC receives a complete application and your school certifies you as eligible for the award.
- ISAC will notify you, in writing, of your eligibility status. You will receive one of the following letters:
- Notice of Eligibility
- Notice of Ineligibility
- Notice of Unavailable Funds
4. Who determines the amount of tuition waived?
Your eligible Illinois public four-year institution will determine the amount, providing the institution offers a concentration in special education and based on the cost of tuition and mandatory fees. You may receive the tuition waiver for up to four calendar years, provided you have not yet obtained an initial licensure in any area of special education.
5. What expenses does the award cover?
The waiver covers tuition and mandatory fees. Mandatory fees are those assessed by the college to every full-time student for each term. Examples include fees for activities, facility operations, grants, health, registration, technology, transportation and others. The college determines fees that are considered mandatory.
6. Can I receive additional financial aid if I receive a tuition waiver?
Yes. However the amount of the tuition waiver plus other financial aid cannot exceed the total cost of attendance.
7. Will I automatically be considered for the tuition waiver for the next academic year?
Yes, once you've received and used a tuition waiver, you do not need to reapply for consideration for additional years. However, if you applied in a prior year but were not selected to receive the waiver or you did not use a waiver you had been awarded, you may reapply in subsequent years.
8. What is the teaching agreement and how is it fulfilled?
If you received any assistance through the SETTW Program, you must teach two years on a full-time basis in the field of special education. This teaching obligation must be fulfilled beginning within one year immediately following graduation or termination of enrollment, and continuing for two of the subsequent five years, in the following Illinois schools that have been approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE):
- a nonprofit public, private or parochial preschool, or
- a nonprofit public, private or parochial elementary school, or
- a nonprofit public, private or parochial secondary school.
You will be required to submit evidence that you are complying with program requirements.
9. What happens if I fail to fulfill my teaching commitment for the Illinois SETTW Program?
If the teaching obligation is not fulfilled, the amount received through the tuition waiver converts to a loan, and you must repay the entire amount prorated to the fraction of the teaching obligation not completed, plus interest within ten years. If applicable, you will pay reasonable collection costs.
The interest rate is 5%. Refer to the promissory note (located in the Terms and Conditions) for an explanation of the extensions and deferments available to you to extend the time period to fulfill your teaching and/or repayment obligation.
10. What if I do not make my loan payments for the Illinois SETTW Program?
If you do not make your payments as scheduled, your loan may go into default status. Possible consequences of default for any educational loan include:
- Your default may be reported to all national credit bureaus. You may not be able to get credit cards (e.g., VISA, MasterCard, or department store), car loans, mortgages, etc.
- Your negative credit rating will stay on your credit history for seven (7) years after the loan is repaid.
- You may lose future eligibility for financial aid, including student loans.
- You may be sued, and court costs/legal fees will be added to what you owe.
- Your federal and state income tax refunds may be withheld.
- Your Illinois professional license may not be renewed.
- Your employer may withhold part of your salary for payment of your loan.