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ISAC and Tax Assistance Program partner to help families apply for financial aid       Send a link to a friend

[DEC. 28, 2004]  CHICAGO -- The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is partnering with the Tax Assistance Program this year to train tax program volunteers to help families apply for student financial aid while they are also preparing their income tax returns.

The Chicago-based Tax Assistance Program -- It Adds Up! enlists over 1,600 professional volunteers to provide free, confidential tax preparation and financial literacy services to low-income families and individuals who need assistance to claim available tax credits and refunds. Last year, program volunteers assisted more than 9,670 families, recovering a total of $11.9 million through tax credits, refunds and financial literacy services.

This year, the program is expanding its financial services to low-income families by working with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to also provide completion services for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA. Students and families considering attending college must complete a FAFSA to apply for need-based aid, such as Illinois MAP grants or federal Pell grants, as well as educational loans. Information required on the application relies on income data and links closely with tax return data.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission and the Tax Assistance Program have worked together previously by hosting financial aid awareness workshops in Chicago, along with free tax preparation services.

This year, every tax preparation volunteer will receive training from Illinois Student Assistance Commission staff on FAFSA completion. Tax program volunteers will then be able to help families with students preparing to attend college file their FAFSA applications for student aid.

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Families served by the Tax Assistance Program have an average family income of $14,000, making them candidates for need-based financial aid. The new FAFSA completion service will enable families to file their financial aid applications earlier in the year, making them more likely to receive aid before the funding for student aid programs is depleted.

More information about FAFSA completion services and financial assistance programs administered by Illinois Student Assistance Commission can be found at www.collegezone.com or by calling toll-free (800) 899-ISAC [4722].

About ISAC

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is the state's centralized provider of financial assistance and is aimed at helping students and families access postsecondary education or training. Each year, the commission awards an estimated $400 million in scholarship and grant aid to nearly 185,000 qualified students and also provides an additional $1 billion to borrowers through its student loan programs. The agency offers credit-based alternative loans, a 529 prepaid tuition program known as College Illinois, and a broad array of outreach and informational services to ensure that families have access to the information they need to pay for a college education.

More information is available by calling toll-free (800) 899-ISAC [4722] or visiting the agency's website at www.collegezone.com.

[News release]

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