Illinois Student Assistance Commission
(Appropriated Spending in Thousands)
|Scholarship and Grant Programs
|Prepaid Tuition Program
Totals may not add due to rounding.
Since its inception in 1957, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) has been committed to helping make college accessible and affordable for students throughout Illinois. ISAC provides comprehensive, objective, and timely information on college and financial aid for students and their families - giving them access to the tools they need to make the educational choices that are right for them. Then, through the state’s flagship Monetary Award Program and other scholarship and grant programs ISAC operates, ISAC can help students make those choices a reality.
Sixty years later, ISAC is furthering its mission through the agency’s support of the statewide goal of college completion, to “increase to 60 percent the proportion of adults with a post secondary degree or credential by 2025.” In conjunction, ISAC is working to increase the post secondary completion rate of low-income Illinois students. ISAC offers a comprehensive array of programs and services for Illinois students and families, particularly for low-income and first-generation students, to assist them in navigating the college and financial aid process. It also manages most of the key state and federal grant, scholarship, and loan repayment/forgiveness programs available to post secondary students in Illinois, helping to ensure millions of dollars of aid are appropriately awarded to qualified applicants. ISAC also operates the state’s 529 prepaid tuition program. Enrollment for the program is currently on hold as the agency continues its discussions with elected officials to advance legislation that will strengthen the program.
Illinois’ largest need-based grant program is the Monetary Award Program (MAP). In fiscal year 2018, MAP provided approximately $392 million to more than 129,000 Illinois students for use in meeting tuition and fee costs at community colleges, public universities, and private institutions. The 129,000 MAP recipients represented approximately 22 percent of undergraduate students at MAP-eligible schools. The effective fiscal year 2018 maximum MAP award was $4,869, representing about 32 percent of the fiscal year 2018 mean-weighted tuition and fees of $15,182 at an Illinois public university. The average taxable income of families eligible for fiscal year 2018 MAP grants was about $25,185. With more demand for MAP than available funding, in fiscal year 2018 the agency was able to offer MAP awards to about 68 percent of the eligible students.
Although it no longer originates loans, ISAC has guaranteed billions in federally reinsured FFEL loans for qualified students and parents, manages a loan portfolio, and works with borrowers to both avert loan default and to rehabilitate defaulted loans. With the elimination of the FFEL program in 2010, ISAC’s loan portfolio continues to wind down.
One of ISAC’s primary functions is outreach intended to help families navigate the college-going and financial aid process. Each year, the ISACorps, a talented group of recent college graduates who are trained to serve as near-peer mentors to high school students, provides statewide support to students and families at college fairs, workshops, and other outreach events, as well as through one-on-one mentoring. In addition, ISAC conducts numerous training sessions that reach hundreds of ISAC partners annually, including high school counselors, advisors, and college financial aid administrators. ISAC’s website provides in-depth information for students and families to help guide them through the college-going and financial aid process. The agency’s award-winning online Student Portal offers students free tools and resources to make more informed choices about college and financial aid, find scholarships, improve financial literacy, and even find jobs and other career resources. A free text messaging service allows students to get answers to their college and financial aid questions sent directly to their phones.
ISAC is also the state grantee for a seven-year Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant, a federal discretionary grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post secondary education. Over the course of the seven year grant, which was awarded in late 2016, ISAC and its program partners are using a cohort model to provide direct services to approximately 30,500 students in 19 middle schools and 19 high schools across Illinois.
Students are always the number one priority at ISAC. College costs continue to rise and the need for a workforce with post secondary training continues to grow. ISAC remains committed to making higher education accessible and affordable for all Illinois students.