CHAMPAIGN – To help high school seniors and adult students stay on track with their college plans amid the pandemic, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) supports the Illinois Student Assistance Commission’s (ISAC) efforts to assist students in completing financial aid applications.   

“It’s vital that students know about and receive the financial aid they’re eligible for, especially during these unprecedented times,” said Bennett, a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “As students continue to navigate the pandemic and plan for the future, I’m thrilled to see Illinois leading the way.”

According to the governor’s office, Illinois closed out the year ranking the number-one state for completions of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the form most students use to apply for federal and state financial aid for post-secondary education.

ISAC is reaching out directly to schools that previously participated in the College Changes Everything campaign and is offering free supports statewide, such as online financial aid completion workshops for students and parents. Individual assistance to students and parents in completing financial aid applications is also available via web conferencing, phone, text or email.

“We want to make sure every high school senior and adult student in Illinois knows that completing a financial aid application is a critical step for their future,” said Jacqueline Moreno, ISAC’s director of College Access and Outreach. “We can help make the application process fairly quick and easy for most students.”

Find free assistance and more information at ISAC’s website.

1140 zoom holiday gatheringCHAMPAIGN – With the 2020 holiday season occurring during a global health pandemic, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is reminding residents to celebrate safely over the coming weeks.

“This has been a year of sacrifice to protect those we care about from COVID-19,” Bennett said. “We can’t let our guard down now with the holidays approaching. There is still time to downsize your plans so we can keep folks safe and healthy.”  

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control still recommend avoiding large groups and staying at home as often as you can, and wearing masks and practicing social distancing if you must go out.

“We all have to do our part during this critical time, and the safest way to spend the holiday is with those in our immediate households,” Bennett said. “Please take this seriously so we can create new memories with all of our loved ones in the New Year.”

Warm socks drive Vermilion

DANVILLE – Especially during the winter months, socks are among the most sought-after articles of clothing by people experiencing homelessness, leading State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) to launch a donation drive collecting new socks for shelters across Danville.

“The ongoing pandemic has impacted our community in so many ways and has increased the demand for charitable services,” Bennett said. “With temperatures dropping, I am asking for your help to provide warm socks for our less fortunate neighbors.”

Worn-out or ragged socks put people at serious risk of foot disease and, during the winter months, in severe danger from the cold. As a result, new socks are greatly needed by those experiencing homelessness—but they are the least donated clothing item at homeless shelters.

From Dec. 21 to Jan. 15, community members are encouraged to donate new socks for men, women and children at the collection locations below:

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SPRINGFIELD – The Senate Higher Education Committee held a hearing Monday on the progress of SHIELD Illinois, the system which administers University of Illinois’ state-of-the-art rapid COVID-19 test, which uses saliva rather than the common nasal swab and is intended to be made available to all of the state’s public universities.

Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee, has been supportive of University of Illinois’ efforts since the project’s early stages.

“The University of Illinois has stepped up to help other higher education institutions make a safe, responsible return to in-person learning,” Bennett said. “The U of I has proven the success of the saliva test, keeping their positivity rate below 1% despite nationwide surges. Expanding this testing program is more vital than ever for our colleges and universities.”

According to Tim Killeen, president of the U of I System, the university is organizing a testing program and infrastructure to deploy the innovative test across the state. This plan includes a prototype lab on wheels that will allow testing to take place where it is needed most.

“SHIELD is launching a network of high-capacity labs across the state to process test samples and provide fast, accurate results,” Killeen said. “This groundbreaking technology has attracted global attention, and we are working to expand the reach across Illinois and beyond.”

The test has such high sensitivity and specificity that there are almost no false positives or false negatives, which is one of the driving factors that has led to the university’s low positivity rate.

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