More become eligible for financial aid due to RISE Act

Amina Murati, Writer

For those students who are not able to apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), they are now able to do so with the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity (RISE) Act. 

The executive director of Financial Aid, Maureen Amos, explained that “undocumented and transgender students who cannot fit through the selective service requirement can do a RISE Act application”. This opportunity gives those students a chance to get help from the state.

Earlier this year, Governor J.B. Pritzker passed the RISE Act which will be available for students to apply through an online application. The application will be made available starting Jan. 1, 2020. 

When describing the application process, Amos said, “It will be an online application and it will look very similar to the FAFSA”.  She explained how the RISE Act will “help students be eligible for state assistance, such as the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant, minority teacher scholarships and special education waiver if they are looking to be in the teaching profession.”  

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) further explains the process of applying for the RISE Act. ISAC states that the RISE Act will not only help with student aid, but can also help those who qualify with “any public institution of higher learning including, but not limited to, scholarships, grants, awards or other financial assistance.” 

This new law allows previously ineligible students to receive financial aid toward their tuition. According to ISAC, students must meet the following criteria to apply:


  • The student must have lived with their parent or guardian while they were in high school.
  • The student must have completed high school and received a diploma (or equivalent).
  • The student has been attending school for at least three years since the day they graduated high school.
  • The student must provide an affidavit saying that they will become a permanent resident as soon as they can.
  • The student must be living in Illinois.


ISAAC also mentioned that there will be pre-screening questions before the application to make sure the student who is applying not only meets the criteria mentioned above, but is also a student eligible for FAFSA aid. 

Since the large portion of students who can apply for FAFSA apply back in October, Amos explained how there will now be a temporary suspension of MAP awards for those people who apply for FAFSA. That way, there is a fair and equal allocation of money distributed to students who are in need of student aid between those who apply for FAFSA and those who apply for the RISE Act. 

Amos said, “That window will likely reopen once the state gets a picture of how many RISE Act filers there are.” The establishment of the RISE Act will allow for a significant portion of the NEIU student body a chance to receive student aid from the state. 

For more information on financial aid, visit the Financial Aid Office in room D 200 (D Building, second level, above Enrollment Services) or contact the Financial Aid Office by phone (773) 442-5016, fax (773) 442-5040 or by email at [email protected].