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Illinois requires all public high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or, if applicable, the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid as a graduation requirement (Illinois School Code 105 ILCS 5/22-87, Sec. 22-87). The Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid allows qualifying undocumented students and some transgender students who are not eligible for federal financial aid to apply for state financial aid. Local school district staff must provide support and assistance to students and parents/guardians in the application process.

Alternatively, a parent/guardian must file a waiver if they choose to opt a child out of this graduation requirement by completing the Nonparticipation form; students who are least 18 years of age or legally emancipated may complete the form themselves.

This requirement ensures students have a chance to discover what resources are available to fund their next steps after high school. Completing the FAFSA or Alternative Application counts as an automatic application for a variety of financial aid resources, including Illinois’ Monetary Award Program (known as MAP), as well as private scholarships offered at many institutions. Financial aid obtained through the FAFSA can also pay for technical or vocational school.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) offers assistance to schools by hosting free online Financial Aid Completion Workshops for students and families to give them personalized help through the process. These workshops are led by ISACorps​ members, who are recent college graduates trained by ISAC to serve as near peer mentors to high school students -- an invaluable resource to help young adults think through some of the most important decisions of their lives. ISAC also offers Illinois school districts a way to identify students who have not yet submitted a financial aid application to give them extra assistance or encouragement to complete an application.

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