Illinois offers plenty of aid for high school students to complete FAFSA – Chicago Tribune

We agree with Kahini Shah’s insights into the importance of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to make post-secondary education more accessible and affordable for students and to reduce student debt (“Want to make college more accessible? Make Students complete FAFSA.” July 27).

Like the states Shah mentioned in his op-ed, Illinois also has a FAFSA requirement. In 2019, Governor JB Pritzker signed into law the state’s FAFSA mandate. In its first year of implementation in the 2020-2021 academic year, Illinois fell from 13th in the nation for high school FAFSA completions to No. 6 in the nation. When filings were down more than 4% nationally, Illinois was the leader among just three states that increase their FAFSA high school completion rate year after year, despite all the challenges posed by the pandemic. While the 2022-23 FAFSA remains open, Illinois is currently ranked No. 5 in the nation for high school FAFSA completions.

Illinois also provides the supports Shah cites as essential for completing financial aid applications. In addition to online resources and free one-on-one mentoring available to any student in the state, the Illinois Student Aid Commission supports the efforts of school counselors and schools through its FAFSA completion initiative. , which allows schools to focus their limited resources on helping students who have not yet applied for financial aid. The commission offers free virtual and in-person application workshops at high schools, community centers and libraries. (See studentportal.isac.org for free resources.)

We recognize high school financial aid application completion rates with rewards, and the weekly completion tracker on the ISAC website, www.isac.org, encourages friendly competition for completions between high schools . The free ISAC College Q&A text messaging service provides students with important updates and reminders about college access and financial aid. It also allows students to ask questions to an expert.

The Illinois FAFSA mandate and accompanying supports, with input from the governor’s office, Illinois education agencies, high schools, school trustees, and Illinois colleges and universities , make college possible for more Illinois students.

— Eric Zarnikow, Illinois Student Aid Commission, and Carmen I. Ayala, Illinois State Superintendent of Education, Chicago/Springfield

My wife and I love Chicago and came to the city one day recently to see the Paul Cézanne exhibit at the Art Institute, have dinner at a sidewalk cafe, and watch the live taping of the hit comedy show by WBEZ-FM 91.5 “Wait , Wait… Don’t tell me! at the Studebaker Theater.

It was also the first day of Lollapalooza, which made for pleasant people-watching on Michigan Avenue. But when we returned to the Grant Park South parking garage to pick up our car at 10 p.m., the fun certainly ended. It was only after we and many others were back in our vehicles and queuing to leave that we were informed that no one would be able to get out until Lollapalooza ended at 11pm. To make matters worse, we were all told to turn off our engines, which reduced the harmful exhaust a bit but also increased the heat inside the garage to very uncomfortable levels.

There was no way to leave our cars at this time to get some fresh air, use the bathroom or get water. Almost 90 minutes later, we were finally released from our parking jail! We were not informed either when we entered the garage or when we returned to our car that we could not leave at the time of our choice. I’m sure a lot of people that day were using the garage for events other than Lollapalooza.

We paid a large sum to park, and this situation was not only an insane inconvenience, but it could also have been a health emergency for someone or a spark to trigger road rage if patience had not not prevailed.

Whoever made this decision – Millennium Garages, the City of Chicago, the Chicago Police Department, or the planners of Lollapalooza – please learn from this and don’t repeat this mistake! It’s exactly the kind of incident that keeps people from coming to Chicago to enjoy all it has to offer.

—Philip Spencer, Naperville

My love for the original “Star Trek” runs deep. Nichelle Nichols has been a trailblazer and a glorious ambassador for her show, her role and her science all her life. And a really lovely person. May she have a wonderful adventure to the final frontier.

—Paul Bacon, Hallandale Beach, Florida

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