2021-22 FAFSA®, Alternative Application, and Important Dates
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) – New FAFSA® and Alternative Application Now Available!
Although we are working differently during this time, we want to remind students and their families 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.
ISAC staff will be unavailable for these holidays:
- Monday, October 12, 2020 – Columbus Day
- Tuesday, November 3, 2020 – Election Day
- Wednesday, November 11, 2020 – Veterans Day
- Thursday, November 26, 2020 – Thanksgiving Day
- Friday, November 27, 2020 – Day after Thanksgiving
- Friday, December 25, 2020 – Christmas Day
- Friday, January 1, 2021 – New Year's 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.
2020-21 FAFSA® and Alternative Application Remain Available
Although ISAC suspended the announcement of 2020-21 Monetary Award Program (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 (see note at bottom of message) 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.
2021-22 FAFSA and Alternative Application Now Available
The 2021-22 FAFSA is now available online, and should be completed as soon as possible by students who will be attending college between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. Specific details, including links to several online resources, may be accessed via the Financial Aid Planning section (which is located within the Students & Parents – Before College area). FAFSA results are used to determine eligibility for the MAP grant, as well as several other forms of federal, state and institutional financial assistance.
When completing the FAFSA on the Web, which is the method that provides the quickest results for the federal application, remember that you (and your parent, if you are a dependent student) must first obtain an FSA ID from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). If you obtained an FSA ID from ED to apply for financial aid in a prior academic year, that same FSA ID will be used now to complete the 2021-22 FAFSA.
In addition, the 2021-22 Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid is also available (in English and Spanish). As a reminder, undocumented students and transgender students meeting the criteria of the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act may file the Alternative Application – which is patterned after the FAFSA – to apply for the MAP grant. Further details are provided at ISAC's RISE Act page.
ISAC is dedicated to helping educate students and parents about all aspects of financial aid. We devote resources to public outreach activities to help families plan for college. Public awareness and education regarding our programs is our priority as we provide students and their families with the most current information available. For example, the ISACorps – ISAC's group of recent college graduates – are trained to serve as near peer mentors to high school students. Please note that all outreach events in 2020 will be done virtually until otherwise noted.
English- and Spanish-Speaking Counselors Available to Assist You
If you have questions regarding the financial aid application process, you may speak with an ISAC Call Center Representative by calling 800.899.ISAC (4722). Students with general questions regarding the financial aid application process may also have a real-time conversation with a Call Center Representative by simply clicking on the "Live Support – Online" button, which appears in the right margin of all pages within the During College and After College sections of the Students & Parents area. 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.
October is College Changes Everything Month 2020
During the month of October, many high schools throughout Illinois will hold college application and FAFSA completion workshops for their students. College-bound students at participating schools are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities to receive assistance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the 2020 workshops will be done virtually.
Resources Available at the ISAC Student Portal
Be sure to visit the ISAC Student Portal to access the following helpful resources.
- For information related to MAP grants:
- 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.
- For assistance beyond financial aid:
- Student Resources Beyond Financial Aid (located in the Resources area) – find resources for food, housing, medical care, child and dependent care assistance and consideration because of special circumstances (includes listings of Illinois food pantries on or near college campuses, as well as across the state).
December 1: Priority Deadline Date for Returning MAP Recipients
Returning MAP recipients (i.e., students who received MAP funds during the prior academic year and continue to meet all eligibility requirements) who submit their FAFSAs or Alternative Applications by that academic year's priority deadline date will receive priority access to appropriated MAP funds.
For the 2021-22 academic year, eligible applicants must have received MAP funds during the 2020-21 academic year and submit their 2021-22 FAFSA or Alternative Application on or before December 1, 2020 (which is the 2021-22 priority deadline date) in order to receive priority access to 2021-22 MAP funds.
COVID-19 Impact on Designation of State Scholars
The postponement or cancellation of spring 2020 college entrance exams (i.e., SAT and ACT) due to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the State Scholar announcement schedule also moving to later in the academic year than it would normally occur. The State Scholar Program page of our website will be updated once all the necessary exam scores have been received by ISAC and a timeline for announcing State Scholar awards has been determined.
NOTE: Undocumented students and transgender students meeting the criteria of the RISE Act may file the Alternative Application – which is patterned after the FAFSA – to apply for the MAP grant. Further details are provided at ISAC's RISE Act page.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.