By: Brittany Flaherty Theis

Recently, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 2719 into law, now Public Act 101-0180 (the “Act”). The Act creates Section 22-85 of the School Code. Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, the Act requires, as a prerequisite to receiving a high school diploma from a public high school, the parent or guardian of each student (or the student if at least 18 years old or legally emancipated) to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or an application for State financial aid, if applicable. Alternatively, the parent, guardian, or student must file a waiver with the student’s school districts.

School districts with a high school must require each high school student to comply with these requirements in order to graduate. They must also provide any support or assistance necessary to comply with the Act.

Governor Pritzker’s office has indicated that currently 59 percent of Illinois students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which ranks Illinois 9th in the country. Proponents of the Act hope that increased completion rates will ensure more federal dollars are allocated to students in Illinois. However, concerns were expressed that not every student wants to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Act incorporated a waiver provision to address that concern.

The Act directs the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) to prepare the waiver form. ISBE may also adopt rules to implement Section 22-85. The waiver must indicate that the parent or guardian (or the student, if applicable): (1) understands what the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and application for State financial aid are; and (2) has chosen not to file either application.

Attorneys at Whitt Law regularly advise clients on academic and student-related matters such as advancement, retention, low-income, and graduation concerns. Please contact Whitt Law Senior Attorney Brittany Flaherty Theis or Brian R. Bare if you have questions regarding academic or student-related matters.


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