Palos Heights, Ill. – The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) announced the formation of the Illinois Student Assistance Corps, consisting of over 60 near-peer mentors that will march in Chicago’s Bud Billiken Back-to-School Parade on Saturday morning before being deployed throughout the state.
“Against a landscape of recession, unemployment, tightening credit markets, spiraling tuition and cuts in state aid, it’s more important than ever to promote higher education and provide prospective college-goers with support,” said ISAC Executive Director Andrew Davis. “Each of the new Corps members is a recent grad who can relate to the challenges of going to and paying for college. Their insights will be very valuable in guiding students on the path to college.”
Corps members will serve a two-year commitment that included completion of an initial seven-week summer “boot camp” held at Trinity Christian in addition to ongoing training and the opportunity to transform the lives of families throughout the state. Corps members will be deployed in each of the 39 community college districts throughout Illinois, assisting students in career exploration, college selection, test preparation, scholarship searches, application completion and the college financial aid process.
“We are pleased to be able to provide the fertile training ground for the Corps members over the past seven weeks during the summer,” said Trinity Christian College President Steven Timmermans. “We know the value of the services these near-peer mentors will perform over the next couple of years and look forward to seeing the results on our campuses.”
Funded by the federal College Access Challenge Grant Program (CACGP), the Corps bolsters ISAC's ability to provide high-quality personal service to students in every single community in the state, increasing the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college. Other organizations have also joined in supporting the Corps.
Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) represents 23 nonprofit, private liberal arts colleges across Illinois, leveraging its statewide network of colleges and universities to provide underserved students with new educational opportunities through programs to help at risk students prepare for and graduate from college.
“ACI and its member colleges look forward to working with ISAC on this venture to ensure more Illinois students attend and successfully graduate from college, ” said ACI Executive Director Jerry Fuller.
The Illinois Campus Compact (ILCC) assists the Corps by giving near-peer mentors the resources and support to foster a deep appreciation and understanding of democratic values and citizenship as they mentor students preparing for college.
“We believe that this ISAC initiative is crucial to helping connect possible first year college students to the right institution for them,” said ILCC Executive Director Kathy Engelken.
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission provides students of all ages and backgrounds with the resources and support to obtain financial aid for higher education. A state agency, ISAC has paved the path to post-secondary education with innovative programs for more than 50 years. Last year alone, ISAC continued its mission to make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students by issuing over 186,000 grants and scholarships totaling nearly $431 million.
The Commission provides educational funding with student loans, as a loan guarantor and via numerous public programs such as the Monetary Award Program (MAP), the Illinois Veteran Grant and College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid Tuition. Students and families have free access to a wealth of financial aid and college planning information at ISAC’s family of websites available at www.knowhow2GOIllinois.org.