RISE Act to Provide Underrepresented Students in Illinois With Financial Aid

by Lauren Provencher / Dec 16, 2019

The Retaining Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act will grant financial aid eligibility to previously underserved student populations. Originally signed into law in June 2019, the RISE Act will officially begin on Jan. 1, 2020.

The RISE Act offers financial assistance to two underrepresented groups: noncitizen students and transgender students. Prior to this act, both groups were ineligible for monetary assistance. The initiative aims to promote equity and student success within Illinois school systems and encourage student retention.

The application process for federal and state RISE Act funding will be available through the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) for the 2020-21 school year instead of via the usual Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process. The ISAC application is for Monetary Award Program (MAP) consideration only for students who meet certain criteria.

Noncitizen students are required to have lived with their parent or guardian while attending high school in Illinois. These students are also expected to have graduated or received the equivalent of a diploma in Illinois. Students must also have attended an Illinois school for at least three years by the time they graduated high school or received the equivalent of a diploma. Noncitizen students must also complete an affidavit in which they promise to apply for United States citizenship at their earliest opportunity. Finally, these students must not have an established residence outside of Illinois.

Transgender students should apply for ISAC programs using the application process that best accommodates the individual.

For students who are eligible for RISE Act funding, ISAC is developing an online application for MAP that is specific to Illinois. The application will determine an expected family contribution and MAP eligibility. The application will be located on the ISAC website starting in early January 2020 and will consist of pre-screening questions to assist students in choosing which application (RISE or FASFA) they should complete. Like the FAFSA process, students will only be required to answer questions relevant to them. MAP awards will be determined by the student’s expected family contribution and provided to colleges through gift-assistance programs. Notification of eligibility and monetary awards will be given through students’ institution rather than via ISAC.

Register for ISAC’s upcoming webinars to learn more about the RISE Act and the application process.