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IVCC, Mendota High want to improve financial aid process

MENDOTA — Mendota High School and Illinois Valley Community College are working together to provide college-aid-specific services to Mendota high school students and families in an effort to simplify the financial aid process and increase college affordability.

“Almost 30% of students who don’t apply for aid would have been eligible for federal grants, some over $6,000, and possibly thousands more from the state,” said Mendota High School director of guidance and former Illinois State University financial aid adviser Mitch Landgraf.

“MHS and IVCC are focusing on opening doors to students by helping them apply for aid.”

The recently-enacted Illinois Public Act 101-0180, starting with the class of 2021, requires all high school seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or sign an opt-out form.

To provide equal and affordable access to college, Mendota counselors and IVCC’s financial aid office will sponsor free, bilingual, financial-aid-related services at the high school’s fall and spring student/parent/teacher conferences.

At spring conferences in March, high school counselors will assist IVCC’s presentation of “Federal Student Aid I.D. Request” labs where juniors and one parent will establish the private, secure user account needed to apply for aid in October of their senior year.

“Establishing the student and parent FSA ID is its own detailed process,” said IVCC financial aid director Eric Johnson. “This will simplify and expedite the fall application process and help students and parents get acquainted with financial aid.”

At fall conferences in October, high school counselors will again assist IVCC at “FAFSA Application Completion” labs.

“This IVCC/MHS collaboration is a proactive step toward making a college education and training affordable and equally accessible,” said Landgraf. “Focusing on grant aid first, in addition to exploring IVCC’s low-cost, high-quality offerings, is a way to reduce or prevent student loan debt.”

IVCC director of admissions, records and transfer services Quintin Overocker added, “This is not the first time Mendota High School counselors have developed exemplary initiatives or collaborated with us to empower students. It is another example of IVCC’s and MHS student services’ shared dedication to serving students.”

For more information, contact the high school’s student services at (815) 539-7446, ext. 548 or Johnson at (815) 224-0440 or

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