Helping to ensure that more Illinois students have the funds to follow a path to education after high school has become increasingly difficult in the midst of a pandemic.
To address some of the pandemic-related challenges facing high schools and graduating seniors in completing financial aid applications for next fall, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission is adding new initiatives to its college outreach programs.
Ensuring that students have this important information drove passage of the state’s FAFSA Mandate. This new law, which took effect with the 2020-2021 school year, requires public high school seniors to complete the FAFSA or, if eligible, the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, as a prerequisite to receiving a high school diploma.
Information about FAFSA Mandate training and support for school counselors and other professionals is available at www.isac.org/pd/fafsa-mandate.html.
As high schools focus their efforts on remote learning and keeping connected with students, ISAC is reaching out directly to schools that previously participated in the CCE campaign and is offering the following free supports statewide:
- Online financial aid completion workshops for students and parents. See studentportal.isac.org/events for statewide virtual events.
- Individual assistance to students and parents in completing financial aid applications, via web conferencing, phone, text, or email. Contact your local ISACorps member for free assistance: studentportal.isac.org/isacorps. Sign up for ISAC’s free text messaging app to get college/financial aid questions answered via text: isac.org/collegeqa.
- ISAC’s FAFSA Completion Initiative and direct outreach to students. ISAC's FAFSA Completion Initiative offers Illinois school districts a way to identify students who have not submitted either a FAFSA or Alternative Application. The application completion information - updated on a weekly basis - can be used by district counselors to help reach students who may need assistance or encouragement to complete an application. Find out more at https://www.isac.org/home/fafsa/index.html
- Financial Aid Online Learning Module for classrooms. ISAC is developing an online learning module for schools to use as part of their remote learning curriculum, which includes a video and a learning packet.
- QR code for outreach to students and families. To improve outreach to students and families during the pandemic, ISAC will be introducing a QR code that links to simple and accessible information for students and families about how to get free assistance with financial aid applications.
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ISACorps members are available throughout the state offering free assistance to help students and families complete and submit an application. Find your ISACorps member at studentportal.isac.org/isacorps.
For more information, visit isac.org and follow them on Facebook @ILStudentAssistance, Twitter and Instagram @ISACfinaid and on YouTube.