October has been named "College Changes Everything" month in an effort to assist prospective college students and their families ready for the process of applying for college. Students and families are encouraged to take full advantage of the free financial aid and post-secondary planning resources available in their communities this month.
Launched by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) four years ago to support the process of filing college applications and financial aid forms at the same time, ISAC is extending support for the CCE campaign to provide, with its partners, free workshops and activities throughout the entire fall.
“What many families might not know is that there is free, expert support available throughout the state from high schools, ISAC, and community partners to help students make more informed post-secondary choices and access the financial aid for which they might be eligible," said Eric Zarnikow, executive director of ISAC.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the form that determines eligibility for federal and some state and institutional financial aid, became available on Oct. 1 for the 2020-21 school year. Because some state aid, such as the Monetary Award Program is awarded on a first come, first-served basis, students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible to have the opportunity to receive all the financial aid for which they might be eligible.
Between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, CCE activities will include free FAFSA completion and college application workshops, where students and families can fill out college applications and/or complete their FAFSAs right then and there, with direct assistance from college and financial aid experts.
Almost 300 high schools in 215 towns and cities in Illinois have scheduled a college application and/or FAFSA Completion Workshop this fall, with more being scheduled every week. Workshops will also be offered at public locations throughout Illinois, supported by the college and financial aid experts at ISAC and their partners.
Joliet Junior College will host a college fair at its Joliet campus on Houbolt Road on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Many statewide workshops are hosted or supported by the ISACorps, recent college graduates who are extensively trained to serve as near peer mentors to high school students navigating the college and financial aid process.The ISACorps also provide free one-on-one assistance to students and families.
Find out more at collegechangeseverything.org/ccemonth.