Free assistance is available to complete college and financial aid applications. From the Illinois Student Assistance Commission:

October is College Changes Everything® (CCE) Month in Illinois, when students are completing both their college applications and financial aid forms at the same time. Launched by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) five years ago, ISAC and its partners have extended the month-long campaign to provide an intensive schedule of free college and financial aid planning support to students and families from Labor Day through Thanksgiving. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid for the 2021-22 school year will both be available on October 1, 2020.

This year is unique in many ways. The Covid-19 pandemic has upended not only how education is delivered, but how students are thinking—or perhaps re-thinking—plans for post-secondary education.

This year is also unique in Illinois because it marks the first year of the state’s new FAFSA mandate. The FAFSA is the form that determines eligibility for federal, most state, and some institutional financial aid. All graduating seniors attending public high schools in Illinois must complete the FAFSA, or if they are ineligible for federal aid, the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, as a prerequisite to receiving a high school diploma. (A parent, guardian, or the student – if 18 or emancipated – may opt out for any reason by filing a nonparticipation form.)  Making FAFSA completion part of an expectation for high school graduation can increase awareness of resources available to help students afford education or training after high school, perhaps helping some decide to attempt college when they might not otherwise have done so.

About College Changes Everything:

College Changes Everything® (CCE) is a college access movement that recognizes that college can be a life changing experience not only for students, but also for families and communities. In Illinois and across the nation, those who obtain education beyond high school not only see a significant impact on their potential career prospects and future salary, but also change levels of poverty, life expectancy, crime and obesity rates in their communities. CCE is an essential part of helping Illinois reach its goal of increasing the proportion of adults in the state with high quality degrees or credentials to 60% by 2025. Find out more and join the conversation at collegechangeseverything.org.