The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) has launched its sixth College Changes Everything Month in Illinois. The month is designed to provide an intensive schedule of free college and financial planning support to students and families. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid for the 2022-2023 school year became available on October 1st.
As part of College Changes Everything Month, students and families can take advantage of these resources and activities to help with planning for college and financial aid:
- Free financial aid completion and college application workshops, where students and families can fill out college applications and/or complete their FAFSA or Alternative Application right then and there, with direct assistance from college and financial aid experts. ISAC will be supporting in person events as well as providing some virtual options. Workshops in Spanish are available. Students and parents can check directly with their high schools for events within or sponsored by their own school. For a continuously updated list of ISAC-supported events that are open to the public, visit studentportal.isac.org/events.
- Students and families can get free one-on-one assistance from the ISACorps member in their area. The ISACorps are recent college graduates who are extensively trained to serve as near peer mentors to high school students navigating the college and financial aid process. Find your local ISACorps member at studentportal.isac.org/isacorps.
- Personalized assistance is also available through ISAC College Q&A, a free text messaging service where students and families can get answers to their college and financial aid questions sent directly to their phones.
- The ISAC Student Portal offers free online tools and resources for students, as well as short videos about college planning and financial aid. Check out ISAC’s YouTube page or the Now Playing section of the Student Portal for our ISAC College Minute videos, covering topics from financial aid to things to know when starting college—all in a minute!
- ISAC also offers assistance through the agency’s call center, 800-899-4722 (ISAC), and its Online Chat service available at isac.org.
Families should know that completing the FAFSA form or, as eligible, the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, is a requirement for graduation from high school. A waiver provision, however, allows a parent, guardian, or the student (if 18 or emancipated) to opt out for any reason. Details can be found on the ISAC website.
Making FAFSA completion part of an expectation for high school graduation can increase the number of students who are aware of the resources available to help them afford education or training after high school. This information can also help some students decide to attempt college when they might not otherwise have done so, and it may help some students limit student loan debt and take a fuller course load to more quickly complete a degree or credential.