Because this is an entitlement program, eligible recipients will receive their awards regardless of annual appropriations by the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor - Illinois public
2- and 4-year colleges are required to waive any eligible tuition and mandatory fees that are not covered by state appropriations.
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Using IVG with Other Tuition/Fee Benefits - IMPORTANT: Includes information for veterans
who are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at less than 100% (based on length of
service) and choose to use those benefits during the same term that IVG benefits are used
How to Apply (and Obtaining the Application)
How Funds Are Disbursed
If you have served at least one year of federal active duty service in the Armed Forces of the United States; or served on federal active duty service in a foreign country during a time of hostilities in that country and were honorably discharged after each period of federal active duty service; and/or are honorably serving** you may be eligible for the Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program. Any member of the Illinois National Guard or a Reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States who meets the eligibility requirements is considered a qualified applicant for the IVG Program. Qualified applicants are encouraged to submit an IVG Program application if they anticipate attending college at any point in the future. While program eligibility can be confirmed for qualified applicants at any time, funds will be disbursed only for terms in which you are enrolled at an Illinois public college or community college.
This program pays eligible tuition and mandatory fees. Mandatory fees are those assessed by a 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. Benefits are limited to use only at Illinois public colleges or community colleges. Qualified applicants may use this grant at the undergraduate or graduate level for the equivalent of four academic years of full-time enrollment, which is measured in eligibility units. With the exception of veterans who are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at less than 100% (based on length of service) and choose to use those benefits during the same term that IVG benefits are used, IVG Program eligibility units are based on the enrolled hours for a particular term, not the dollar amount of the benefits paid. Charges for noncredit courses that meet the definition of tuition and mandatory fees may be covered by IVG benefits. Eligibility units used for a noncredit course are the same as those assessed for a credit course having the same number of faculty contact hours. Contact the financial aid office at your college to determine the amount of the eligible tuition and mandatory fees that will be covered by this grant.
If you qualify for IVG and the Montgomery or Post-9/11 GI Bills, you may be able to receive benefits from both programs during the same academic year for eligible educational expenses.
To obtain information and an online application for GI Education benefits, call the Department of Veterans Affairs at 888.GI BILL1 or visit their website at gibill.va.gov/.
To assist veterans in navigating the complex web of services and benefits available, the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) runs 49 full-time and 35 part-time (itinerant) offices in 80 out of the 102 counties in Illinois. You can look up your nearest Service Office at the IDVA website.
Note: legislation that took effect in July 2019 amends the Illinois residency requirements for this program. The amended requirements are reflected in the following.
To be considered eligible to receive IVG benefits, you must:
- Satisfy Illinois residency requirements by meeting the below qualifications as outlined either in #1, #2 and #3, or in #4:
- currently reside in Illinois unless you are serving federal active duty service at the time of enrollment in college or residing with a spouse in continued military service who is currently stationed outside of Illinois.
- were a resident of Illinois at the time of entering federal active duty service or within six months prior to entering the service or were a student at an Illinois public 2- or 4-year college at the time of entering federal active duty service.
- established, or if on federal active duty service, plan to establish Illinois residency within six months after leaving federal active duty service, or if married to a person in continued military service
- apply for this grant within six months after and including the date the spouse was stationed within Illinois, or
- if the spouse was stationed outside Illinois, established, or plan to establish, Illinois residency within six months after and including the date the spouse was separated.
Note: You may be considered eligible for the IVG program by fulfilling #2 and #3 above; however, if you do not currently reside in Illinois (#1), you will not receive IVG benefits.)
- reside in Illinois at the time of application and at the time of receiving benefits for enrollment and, at some point after leaving federal active duty service, have been a resident of Illinois for at least 15 consecutive years.
- Meet one of these two criteria:
- have served at least one year of federal active duty service in the Armed Forces of the United States, which may include the Illinois National Guard and the Reserve component of the Armed Forces, [Drill time (weekend and summer drills) by Guard members and Reservists is not equivalent to federal active duty service], or
- regardless of length of service, have served in a foreign country in a time of hostilities in that country; have been medically discharged for service related reasons; or have been discharged prior to August 11, 1967.
- Have received an honorable discharge (general discharge under honorable conditions is not eligible) for each period of federal active duty service, and/or be honorably serving.** Contact information is available for Illinois military personnel who need to request a copy of the Department of Defense (DOD) Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214 Member-4 or equivalent copy).
- Not be a current member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Applicants are not eligible if their only service has been attendance at a service academy. Time served attending military schools or for Initial Active Duty for Training, in the Delayed Entry Program, National Guard, Reserve or any other time that was not federal active duty is not considered equal to federal active duty service. Drill time (weekend and summer drills) by Guard members and Reservists is not equivalent to federal active duty service.
- Not be in default on any student loan, nor owe a refund on any state or federal grant. If you are in default, you may re-establish your eligibility.
In order to receive benefits, qualified applicants must be enrolled at an Illinois public 2- or 4-year college and maintain the minimum grade point average (GPA) required by that college.
Qualified veterans may receive IVG benefits for the equivalent of four academic years of full-time enrollment, which is measured in eligibility units. Recipients may accumulate up to 120 eligibility units.***
With the exception of veterans who are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at less than 100% (based on length of service) and choose to use those benefits during the same term that IVG benefits are used, IVG eligibility units are based on the enrolled hours for a particular term, not the dollar amount of the benefits paid.
The amount of eligibility a recipient has used is determined by converting credit hours (and noncredit hours for which benefits are used) to eligibility units, as indicated below. A recipient can login to his/her profile at the Student Portal and then go to the ISAC Programs area to verify the number of IVG eligibility units they have remaining.
|Number of Hours||Semester Term||Quarter Term|
|12 or more hours||12 units||8 units|
|9 - 11.99 hours||9 units||6 units|
|6 - 8.99 hours||6 units||4 units|
|3 - 5.99 hours||3 units||2 units|
|0 - 2.99 hours||1 units||1 units|
*** Full program benefits may be extended for one additional term if the recipient has accumulated fewer than 120 eligibility units but does not have enough units remaining for the number of hours in which he or she is enrolled for that term.
Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant Program
If you are currently serving in the Illinois National Guard you may also be eligible for the Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant Program.
Applicants who meet all eligibility requirements for both the IVG and ING Grant programs may have the option of receiving benefits from both programs during the same term(s) and/or academic year. However, prior to doing so, applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with the college's financial aid office and consider the following:
- Use of ING Grant benefits is limited to specific periods of time, as defined in the first bullet of the Eligibility section that appears on the Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant Program page.
- IVG benefits may be used for tuition and mandatory fees, and ING Grant benefits may be used for tuition, registration fees, graduation fees and general activity fees (the determination of which specific fees are covered under each program is made by the college).
- With the exception of veterans who are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at less than 100% (based on length of service) and choose to use those benefits during the same term that IVG benefits are used, assessment of eligibility unit usage is based on enrolled hours per term, not the dollar amount paid by the benefits. This means that the number of eligibility units charged will be the same for each program, even though the dollar amount of benefits received from each program may be different (for example, if benefits from the IVG and ING Grant programs are used for full-time enrollment, 12 eligibility units will be charged to each program). It is recommended that applicants carefully consider this when deciding whether to receive benefits under both programs during the same term(s).
- Once payment processing ends for an academic year, adjustments to the number of eligibility units that have been assessed will not be made for individuals who originally had their expenses (e.g., tuition and fees) covered using those benefits (i.e., the applicant cannot choose to "pay back" the dollar amount of benefits used in order to reinstate eligibility units).
- ING Grant benefits can only be used during terms for which the application is submitted prior to the corresponding deadline (for example, if an ING Grant application is submitted after the October 1 fall-term/full-year deadline but before the spring term deadline, then an applicant who is eligible for both programs could choose to use IVG benefits for the fall term, and ING Grant benefits for the spring and summer terms).
Post-9/11 GI Bill
Veterans who are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and IVG and/or ING Grant benefits may choose to use just one program, or combine them. For those with 100% eligibility for Post-9/11 GI Bill (based on length of service), the Post-9/11 GI Bill may provide more attractive benefits than other veteran education benefit programs. However, veterans should carefully review all their options before making the irrevocable decision to apply for and utilize Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. As you consider different scenarios, pay careful attention to the differences that occur when changing from full-time to half-time and in the amount of the housing allowance you would be eligible to receive based on the location of the school you would be attending.
Using Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits (Less Than 100%) During Same Term As IVG Benefits
(New rules, effective beginning with the 2015-16 summer term for classes that are already in session on, or begin after, July 1, 2015)
Note that, for veterans who are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at less than 100% (based on length of service) and choose to use those benefits with IVG benefits in the same term, the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits will be applied first, and any remaining eligible charges for tuition and fees will be covered by IVG benefits. In such instances, the number of IVG eligibility units assessed will be prorated, based on the percentage of charges paid by IVG benefits (i.e., the percentage of charges covered by IVG benefits will be multiplied by the number of credit hours in which the student is enrolled for the term, and that converted number of credit hours will determine the number of eligibility units to be assessed, using the chart that appears under the Eligibility Units section of this page).
Example: An IVG recipient who is also eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at 60%, and has an enrollment status for the semester of 12 credit hours with $10,000 in eligible charges for tuition and fees, would be assessed 3 IVG eligibility units:
$10,000 (tuition and fees) x 0.60 (60% Post-9/11 GI Bill coverage) = $6,000 paid by Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits
The remaining balance of $4,000 (40%) will be paid by IVG benefits
0.40 x 12 (credit hours) = 4.8 (this is the converted number of credit hours paid by IVG benefits)
Per the above chart, 4.8 credit hours paid in a semester is assessed 3 eligibility units
Questions To Consider
In addition to reviewing the monetary benefit amounts, students should also consider the following:
- What type of training or education are you planning to pursue?
- Is the timeframe to utilize benefits important to you (Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits have an expiration date)?
- Are you eligible for the transfer of entitlement benefit through the Post-9/11 GI Bill Program (unused benefits may be passed on to dependents)?
- Do you have remaining entitlement under other VA education programs?
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides several benefit comparison tools to help you better understand all your federal benefit options. Be sure to also check out the VA’s eBenefits site, where you can – among other things – review and print documents from your official Military Personnel File (including your DD Form 214 Member-4).
Important information regarding the Post-9/11 GI Bill - including a summary of changes based on the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 and a February 2011 letter that explains these changes to veterans, as well as a “Road Map for Success” resource - is provided at the Post-9/11 GI Bill section of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Montgomery GI Bill
Veterans who are eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill and IVG and/or ING Grant benefits may receive benefits from both programs during the same term for eligible educational expenses. Students will need to make arrangements with your college’s financial aid office when utilizing both programs.
Monetary Award Program (MAP)
If a student who is eligible for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) is also eligible for IVG and/or ING Grant benefits, all IVG and ING Grant benefits that are available for the term(s) must be used first. A student cannot decline IVG or ING Grant benefits in favor of using MAP benefits.
After all applicable IVG and ING Grant benefits have been used for the term(s), then a partial MAP award may be applied to any outstanding eligible tuition and mandatory fees.
The Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) application is available online as an interactive application via the Student Portal. The online application has many benefits, including program information which is available at your fingertips, online edits which prevent errors, elimination of mailing time, and immediate confirmation that your application has been received at ISAC.
In order to ensure that your application is processed in a timely manner, be sure to carefully read the instructions, submit all required documentation (part of the interactive application process), and contact an ISAC Call Center Representative if you are uncertain about what documentation is needed.
For an equivalent copy of a DD Form 214 Member-4, contact the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, P.O. Box 19432, Springfield, Illinois 62794-9432 or phone 217.782.4652, or the National Personnel Records Center.
Applications for the IVG Program can be submitted any time during the academic year for which assistance is being requested, and need to be submitted only once to establish eligibility. Fully completed applications (including all required documentation) must be received at ISAC allowing sufficient time to complete processing prior to the last scheduled day of classes in the term for which a grant is requested. If you must obtain required documentation, please check the turnaround time with that source - for example, the website for the National Personnel Records Center indicates 10 working days as their turnaround time. ISAC's processing time is approximately four weeks.
ISAC will send qualified applicants a Notice of Eligibility. You must notify your college's financial aid office of your eligibility status as soon as possible, but not later than the last scheduled day of classes in the term for which a grant is requested. Some colleges may require you to provide them with a copy of your eligibility notice. You can use the ISAC Programs area of the Student Portal to check your application status, as well as view your eligibility notice and print a duplicate copy, if needed.
For more information, contact an ISAC Call Center Representative, a field office of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, or your college's financial aid office.
NOTE: If you are unable to access the online application, you may instead download and print a PDF version and submit the completed application to ISAC.
Only one IVG interactive application may be submitted. Consequently, if you need to change your response(s) to any item(s) and/or update any information after the application has been submitted, you will need to provide the information to ISAC. An example of what may need to be updated is demographic information (i.e., name, address, telephone number, etc.). These changes can be submitted to ISAC using one of the below methods, but cannot be done over the telephone.
- via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- via FAX to 847.831.8549
- via letter to ISAC Dept D, 1755 Lake Cook Road, Deerfield, IL 60015-5209
The request must include the last four digits of your Social Security number (for identification purposes) and clearly state what change(s) need to be made. These changes will not affect the application “received date.”
Because this is an entitlement program, eligible recipients will receive their awards regardless of annual appropriations through the State of Illinois budget process. Illinois public 2- and 4-year colleges are required to waive any eligible tuition and mandatory fees that are not covered by state appropriations.
For the years when state funds are appropriated, ISAC works with the college to disburse funds for this program. The college certifies student eligibility and then submits a payment request on behalf of the student. ISAC processes the payment request and submits the information to the State Comptroller’s Office. Dependent on the level of State of Illinois funding at the time of the request, the amount of time it takes for funds to arrive at the college can vary.
Depending on the college, students may be responsible for payment until program funds are received. Qualified applicants who are awaiting receipt of funds from this program should contact the Financial Aid Office or Business Office to determine the college's policy.
Note that ISAC routinely updates this section as new information becomes available. Be sure to check back periodically for the current processing status.
For All Academic Years
(last updated on October 4, 2017):
The interactive Illinois Veteran Grant application is available online via the Student Portal.
There is approximately a four- to six-week turnaround from the date ISAC receives an application to when the qualified applicant receives a response. This same four- to six-week timeframe also applies for any additional documentation submitted in order to make a previously-submitted application complete.
Qualified applicants must notify their college's financial aid office of their eligibility status as soon as possible, but not later than the last scheduled day of classes for the term for which a grant is requested. It is the applicant's responsibility to obtain and submit all required documentation to allow the application to be processed so that the applicant can notify the college by the last scheduled day of classes. The college then works with ISAC to obtain the funds, which are applied toward the qualified applicant's eligible tuition and mandatory fees.*
- If the application is incomplete and/or required documentation is missing, the applicant receives a Notice of Incomplete Application letter. Applicants must return a copy of this letter to ISAC, along with the missing information and/or documents, within 60 days after the date on the letter. If the required documentation is not submitted within 60 days, the application will be canceled.
- If the application is complete, and the applicant meets all eligibility criteria and provides required documentation, the qualified applicant is sent a Notice of Eligibility from ISAC. The qualified applicant should retain a copy of this letter, and also notify the Illinois public 2- or 4-year college where the grant is to be used of his or her eligibility.
Individuals who submit information not meeting the criteria to be a qualified applicant will receive a Notice of Ineligibility.