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ELGIN – As college application season kicks off, State Senator Cristina Castro is encouraging students and their families to take advantage of several state and federal relief opportunities related to financial aid, student loans and college affordability.

“Students and their families deserve to be informed and given resources to make higher education as accessible as possible,” said Castro (D-Elgin). “As the cost of college continues to rise, I am hopeful this relief will support students facing economic hardship and those with limited access to resources.”

Under the federal plan for one-time student loan forgiveness announced recently by the president, students who received Federal Pell Grants can have up to $20,000 in debt forgiven and students with non-Pell Grant loans can have up to $10,000 in debt forgiven if their individual income is less than $125,000. The application is available at and must be completed by Dec. 31, 2023.

In addition, employees of a U.S. federal, state, local or tribal government or non-profit organization may be eligible to have their remaining balance forgiven after making 120 payments while working for a qualifying employer under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is assisting students and families who have questions about the program or need help determining their eligibility through informational webinars. The PSLF Limited Waiver ends Oct. 31, 2022, so anyone who thinks they might qualify should apply as soon as possible.

Finally, the 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is now available, making this the perfect time for anyone who might be interested in attending college next year to apply for financial aid. Illinois students who are ineligible for federal financial aid can check out the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid to apply for the state MAP Grant and institutional aid.

“Financial assistance can be the difference between attending college or not,” Castro said. “I encourage all students who think they could use some help to take advantage of the resources available from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.”

To connect with free one-on-one assistance and explore online tools for college planning and financial aid, visit the ISAC Student Portal. Borrowers interested in applying for one-time federal loan forgiveness can learn more at the U.S. Department of Education’s website. Borrowers who work in public service can learn more about PSLF eligibility and complete the form by Oct. 31, 2022 at