Upcoming Important Dates from ISAC
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) would like to make you aware of the following information, which may be of interest to students and their families.
Unless otherwise noted, links in this message are to corresponding pages at ISAC's website (isac.org).
You may either scroll through the remainder of this message, or click on the appropriate link(s) to go directly to a specific section:
General Information (Not Specific to One Academic Year)
2020-21 (July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021)
2021-22 (July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022)
Although we are working differently during this time, we want students and their families to know that ISAC continues to be here to answer your questions and to support all Illinoisans with college planning and financial aid. Find important resources and the latest updates at the College-Going and Financial Aid Resources and Services During the Coronavirus Outbreak page of our website.
September 17: Constitution Day
To help students become well-informed citizens through an awareness of and familiarity with the U.S. Constitution, the government has designated September 17 as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day (also referred to as Constitution Day). Each year, colleges may celebrate Constitution Day in their own unique ways. To learn more, visit the Constitution Day Resources page.
ISAC Student Portal Provides MAP Resources
- MAP Estimator (located in the Toolbox area) – if you are planning on attending an Illinois college, use this tool to get an idea of your eligibility for the MAP grant, and
- MAP Paid Credit Hours Display (located in the Program Applications & Status Checks area) – if you are a MAP grant recipient, use this option to track the number of MAP Paid Credit Hours you have used to date.
ISAC staff will be unavailable for these holidays:
- Monday, September 7, 2020 – Labor Day
- Monday, October 12, 2020 – Columbus Day
- Tuesday, November 3, 2020 – Election Day
- Wednesday, November 11, 2020 – Veterans Day
Staff will again be available the first business day immediately following each holiday.
Access ISAC's website anytime, or send an e-mail message to the ISAC Call Center. With the exception of days when ISAC staff members are unavailable, we will review and respond to messages during regular business hours of Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CT.
October 1: ING Grant Applications for Full-Year/Fall Term Due
The interactive application for the 2020-21 Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant Program is available to complete and submit online via the Program Applications & Status Checks portion of the ISAC Student Portal. Use the 2020-21 application to apply for the fall 2020, spring 2021 and summer 2021 terms. The application priority consideration date for full-year and fall-only awards is October 1, 2020. Applications received after October 1 will be considered only for second semester (second/third quarter) and/or the summer term.
Because this is an entitlement program, eligible recipients will receive their awards regardless of annual appropriations through the state budget process. Illinois public 2- and 4-year colleges are required to waive any eligible tuition and allowable fees that are not covered by state appropriations.
October 1: Grant Programs for Dependents of Police, Fire or Correctional Officers Applications for Full-Year/Fall Term Due
The application for the 2020-21 Grant Program for Dependents of Police or Fire Officers and Grant Program for Dependents of Correctional Officers is available to download and print. Use the 2020-21 application to apply for the fall 2020, spring 2021 and summer 2021 terms. The application priority consideration date for full-year and fall-only awards is October 1, 2020. Applications received after October 1 will be considered only for second semester (second/third quarter) and/or the summer term.
Grant Program for Exonerees Application Available
Program funds are limited. If you have received a pardon from the Governor of the State of Illinois that was issued on the grounds of innocence of the crime for which you had been imprisoned, or have received a certificate of innocence from a circuit court – and you meet all other eligibility requirements for the program – you are encouraged to complete and submit the application as soon as possible.
2020-21 FAFSA® and Alternative Application Remain Available
Although ISAC suspended the announcement of 2020-21 MAP grants [for all students whose initial 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is received by the federal processor, or whose initial Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid is received by ISAC, on or after July 1, 2020], these 2020-21 applications remain available online. If not already done, an application should be completed and submitted as soon as possible by students who will be attending college between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. FAFSA results are used to determine eligibility for other forms of federal, state and institutional financial assistance. The suspension of 2020-21 MAP award announcements does not impact any other financial aid programs.
MTI Scholarship Applications Still Being Accepted
The 2020-21 Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program application continues to be accepted, even though the March 1, 2020 priority consideration date has passed. Complete applications received after that date will be considered for the MTI Program only if funding remains after all applicants whose applications were timely and complete have been awarded.
All minority students who meet the program's eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply. After entering and submitting their data using the online application, applicants should follow the on-screen instructions to print the completed application, sign it, and mail it to ISAC. Important: the application is not complete until the Application/Teaching Agreement/Promissory Note, with an original ink signature, is received at ISAC.
Start Planning Now for 2021-22 Academic Year
FAFSA Available on October 1 – Make Sure FSA ID is Ready
This is the time for high school seniors planning to start college in the fall of 2021 to create an FSA ID, to be used in October when completing the FAFSA. FAFSA results are used to determine eligibility for the MAP grant, as well as several other forms of federal, state and institutional financial assistance. Be sure to submit the 2021-22 FAFSA, which will require 2019 income information, as soon as possible after it becomes available on October 1, 2020.
Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid
Undocumented students and transgender students meeting the criteria of the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act may file the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid – which is patterned after the FAFSA – to apply for the MAP grant. Further details, including access to the 2021-22 application (anticipated to be available on October 1, 2020), are provided at the RISE Act page.
Outreach Resources, Including ISACorps Information, Available Online
Visit the Before College section of the Students & Parents area to learn about the many outreach initiatives offered by ISAC. Along with online resources to explore careers, find colleges, and learn about applying for financial aid, you'll find information about the ISACorps, which is a group of recent college graduates who are trained to serve as near peer mentors to high school students, helping students and their families navigate the process of applying to and entering college.
We are currently working on our fall schedule, and soon will be updating our calendar of events – be sure to check the calendar regularly for the most up-to-date information. All 2020 events are anticipated to be done virtually.
Beware of Scams
If you are a student who plans to attend college during the 2021-22 academic year, now is the time to start searching for scholarships to help fund your education. As you conduct scholarship searches, beware of financial aid "scams." There are many reputable resources available, including the College Greenlight tool that may be accessed via the Resources portion of the ISAC Student Portal, scholarship books in your local library's reference section, and the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend.
In addition, if you are a borrower who will soon be entering the repayment phase of your student loans, be on the lookout for debt relief scams. Never pay for information about how to repay your student loans, and be sure to learn about your repayment options and contact your loan servicer directly to arrange repayment. Further details are available in the Repaying Your Student Loans section of the Students & Parents area. Be sure to also visit ISAC's Student Loan Repayment during the Coronavirus Outbreak page for information specific to the current times.
English- and Spanish-Speaking Counselors Available to Assist You
If you have questions regarding the financial aid application process, you may utilize the online chat option (simply click on the "Live Support – Online" button that appears in the right margin of all pages within the "During College" or "After College" sections of the Students & Parents area) for general inquiries, or speak with an ISAC Call Center Representative by calling 800.899.ISAC (4722). English- and Spanish-speaking counselors are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (CT).
An ISACorps member in your area can also assist you with the financial aid process.
COVID-19 Impact on Designation of State Scholars
ISAC is aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the postponement or cancellation of many college entrance exams (i.e., SAT and ACT), the results of which will be used when selecting 2021-22 State Scholars. The State Scholar Program page of our website will be updated if further information becomes available, based on the status of the college entrance exams.
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If you have any questions regarding this e-Message, please contact the ISAC Call Center by calling toll free at 800.899.ISAC (4722), sending an e-mail message to email@example.com or chatting live with one of our representatives through the "Live Support-Online" button in the Students & Parents area of our website.
Get information anytime about the college-going process and ISAC programs on ISAC's website and Student Portal, both accessible at isac.org.