New Illinois college financial aid program enrolls first students

Some transgender students and some of those living in the U.S. without legal permission have become the first to apply for college financial aid in Illinois under a new state law.

The law providing a way for those students to apply for Illinois financial aid took effect Jan. 1, but Monday was the first day the program was operational, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“Several dozen” people applied using the new Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid on Monday, Deputy Gov. Jesse Ruiz said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the law June 21.

Previously, undocumented and some transgender students could not apply for state financial aid due to a technicality that prevented them from using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, program. The federal program allows students to simultaneously apply for both state and federal aid. Before the new state law, there was not a stand-alone application for state aid, so some transgender students or those in the U.S. without permission had no way to apply for state aid.

Some transgender students could not use FAFSA because it requires male college students between the ages of 18 and 26 to register with the Selective Service System.