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An Update on FAFSA

02/05/2024 2:33 pm

The financial aid journey for students like you – those looking to enroll in college in Fall 2024 – has been one of the most unusual in recent memory.  Changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process have introduced considerable delays and technical glitches.

Earlier this week, we learned of new delays. The U.S. Department of Education announced they are delaying the release of FAFSA information to schools until mid-March. This additional delay is due to necessary updates to the FAFSA formula that will recognize important inflationary adjustments needed for FAFSA applicant financial data. The correction will result in more students getting aid, but it will take time to fix the Student Aid Index (SAI) formula. The Department of Education is committed to ensuring students and their families receive all the aid they are entitled to receive.

The Office of Student Administrative Services at Rockford University will work on getting financial aid offers to families as quickly as possible once FAFSA information is made available to schools. 

What does this mean for you?

  • If you’ve already completed the 2024-2025 FAFSA- great! FAFSA information will be shared with schools starting mid-March 2024.
  • If you haven’t applied- it’s not too late! Applying early allows you the best opportunity to be considered for the most types of financial aid possible. Rockford University’s school code is 001748.

What are some steps you can take in the meantime?

  • Let us know when you filed the FAFSA (it will let us get a jump start on your financial aid offer when the FAFSAs start arriving)
  • Use our Student Calculator at This will allow you to estimate what financial aid you may qualify for, and therefore what you and your family may be responsible for, out of pocket.
  • Stay Connected! Your Admissions counselor is here to help, every step of the way! Got questions? Just ask! If you would like to schedule another campus visit please reach out. We would love to host you!

Rockford University understands that the cost of education is a significant consideration for students and their families. We know this delay is frustrating in your decision-making process. If you have any questions please contact your admission counselor.

On January 13, 2024, community leaders and distinguished partners gathered together at Rockford University to discuss mental health and trauma at the first annual MLK State of the Mind Address. 

The event, a collaboration between Rockford University and State Representative Maurice West, was an open, honest, and safe discussion about what the Rockford area has done and can do to support all of its community members in their mental and physical health. 

Rockford University President Dr. Patricia Lynott welcomed panelists, partners, and guests alike to the event, emphasizing the importance of being able to openly discuss mental health in the community. 

The first panel brought together religious leaders from all walks of life. Reverend Copeland, Prophet Minister Muhammad, and First Lady Sharon Malone represented different religious organizations in the area. The panel was moderated by Dr. Kevin Thomas, and LCSW Ashton Lockhart also contributed. 

Prophet Minister Muhammad emphasized the dangers related to the phrase, “Man up,” and touched on the need to both pray and process. He also spoke on Safe in my Brother’s Arms (SIMBA), a program located in Rockford that, according to,  “offers African American young men (ages 8-17) a safe space to examine their lives, their choices, and their futures.”

Reverend Copeland discussed the importance of both prayer and therapy. “Prayer works,” he said, “But therapy does too. It’s not an either/or type of situation.” 

First Lady Sharon Malone explained the need for members of the church to be served in the church and the need for mental health professionals within the church. Dr. Kevin Thomas echoed this sentiment, agreeing that there should be a therapist in every house of worship. 

After hearing from these religious leaders, Ashton Lockhart urged the audience to begin reframing their thoughts around hopelessness, saying that “the hope is always there.” 

The second panel had community leaders outside of religious organizations come together and discuss what is happening and what has changed regarding mental health and trauma in the community. Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, Rockford Fire Chief Michele Pankow, Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd, and Dr. Theresa Barnes sat on the panel moderated by Representative West.

In kicking off this next panel, Mayor Tom McNamara said, “Trauma is the most pressing issue our city faces.” He spoke on the importance of data-driven solutions and learning from people with lived experiences. McNamara also touched on several initiatives currently at work in Rockford, including the Barbershop Program, which provides barbers and stylists with information on community resources to share with their clients if needed. 

Fire Chief Michele Pankow said that “the goal is prevention.” She explained that all personnel have basic psychological first-aid skills, and they are working toward expanding these skills to be utilized on every call. 

Police Chief Carla Redd detailed something similar currently in effect within the police department. Their crisis response team–pairs of officers and clinicians–answered 416 calls in 2023, with more than 5,000 follow-ups. 

Dr. Barnes touched on the importance of prevention as well, discussing the need for trauma-informed schools and mentorship programs, especially for children of color. 

In closing, Representative West told audience and community members, “If you call, we’ll answer,” once again emphasizing the need to make space for mental health. 

Attendees also had the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists and meet with several vendors from within the Rockford community including A Nu-You, OSF Health, Covered Illinois, and the Citied Foundation. 

The MLK State of the Mind Address Committee is debriefing about the 2024 event and planning for next year!

To view photos from the event, click here!

The Rockford University community honors the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In our often divided country, Dr. King’s message of justice and equality, and his commitment to peace, continues to inspire humility and hope.

Let us continue to work toward making Dr. King’s dream a reality, his dream of a day “when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”


Based on the weather forecast, Rockford University will be closed on Friday, January 12, 2024, including all campus offices. Remote office hours will be in effect, with employees working from home. All scheduled events on campus for Friday, Jan. 12 are cancelled.  Events on Saturday, Jan. 13 will proceed as scheduled unless otherwise notified.



Dec. 12, 2023

ROCKFORD, Ill. (December 12, 2023) – Rockford University, the region’s leading private four-year educational institution, is excited to announce the start of a women’s flag football program. 

On Monday, October 16, the International Olympic Committee announced the addition of men’s and women’s flag football to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Both the NAIA and NJCAA have officially recognized women’s flag football as a competitive women’s sport, and the NCAA is currently considering the proposition. Women’s flag football has seen remarkable growth over recent years, especially at the high school level. The sport has an inclusiveness that brings together young women from diverse backgrounds who possess all types of different skill sets.

On November 7th, the IHSA announced that sanctioning girls flag football as an IHSA sport will be on the ballot. The Rockford area has already begun to see immense growth in the sport, with seven schools participating in 2023. Since 2021, the Chicago Bears have served as the organizing body and hosted the 2022 and 2023 state championships at Halas Hall. The league began with 22 teams in its inaugural season and has now expanded to 109 teams.

“Since our founding in 1847 as Rockford Female Seminary, Rockford University has been at the forefront of advancing educational opportunities for women,” Rockford University President Patricia Lynott stated. “Now we can build upon that tradition with the introduction of women’s flag football.”

“We want to get in at the ground floor, and we are thrilled to be the first college in the state of Illinois who has a competitive women’s flag football program,” Director of Athletics, Jason Mulligan said. “The response has been met with overwhelming approval, and Rockford University will become a leader with its flagship program.”

Since the NCAA has not officially recognized women’s flag football as a competitive sport, we will begin our program as a club on campus. As of now, the program will be built around a 7 vs. 7 format.

Please stay tuned for more information as plans progress. 

For Immediate Release: 

Oct. 11, 2023

Rockford University Performing Arts to Host Travel-Themed Cabaret Fundraiser Directed by Student Robbie Strader

ROCKFORD, Ill. (October 10, 2023) – Rockford University, the region’s leading private four-year educational institution, will host All Around The World And Back Again: A Travel-Themed Cabaret at 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. this Saturday, October 14, 2023. This Rockford University Performing Arts event will serve as a fundraiser for the department’s trip to Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the largest performing arts festivals in the world, and draws thousands of participants and spectators every year. The Rockford University Performing Arts department has once again been invited to perform at the festival.

The cabaret will be directed by Performing Arts student Robbie Strader, with musical direction by Professor Timm Addams. 

“After an 8-year hiatus, students in RU’s performing arts department are presenting a cabaret event: All Around the World and Back Again: A Travel-Themed Cabaret. Our department has been invited (for a second time) to perform at the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland, next summer, so we’re hosting this as a fundraiser for that awesome opportunity! Saturday’s cabaret event will feature students from all four classes performing songs about travel, from Billy Joel to Disney, and everything in between. Alumnus Chanel Black, recently off the national tour of Legally Blonde, is our special guest! This is a free event, but we’re asking for donations at the door…and for snacks, soda, beer, and wine, which will be available!” says Professor Timm Addams. 

Admission to the event is free, with a suggested donation of $20. Donations can also be made online at

About Rockford University:

Rockford University, a private four-year institution in Rockford, Illinois, is dedicated to providing a quality education rooted in liberal arts and professional studies. With a rich history dating back to 1847, RU is committed to preparing students for rewarding careers, responsible citizenship, and lifelong learning. To learn more about Rockford University, visit our website at


Media is invited to attend the cabaret beginning at 3:00 p.m. in the Cheek Theatre in the Clark Arts Center at Rockford University.

Media should RSVP by 12 p.m. Friday, October 13, by email at


Kayla Eddy

RU Marketing and Communication 


Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity scholarships serve eligible workers seeking postsecondary credentials/degrees in Early Childhood Education.

ROCKFORD, Ill. – Rockford University is pleased to announce that it is offering 2023-24 Early
Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) scholarships, now with expanded eligibility
for those pursuing or interested in pursuing a credential or degree in early childhood education.
The scholarship is now available at participating community colleges and universities beginning
in a student’s freshman year, and depending on the participating institution and its programs,
can be used for certain associate and bachelor’s degree programs, as well as for advanced
degrees and endorsements. At Rockford University, the scholarship is available for students in
Early Childhood Education. Detailed information about eligibility and a link to the 2023-24
scholarship application is available on the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC)

“The ECACE Scholarship is an important part of filling a critical workforce gap in the Rockford
area,” said Dr. Kimberlee Wagner, Rockford University Director of Early Childhood Education
and Associate Professor of Education. “The early childhood workforce plays a pivotal role in
shaping the future of our society by nurturing and educating our youngest learners. Their
dedication and expertise lay the foundation for a child’s lifelong development and success.
Investing in a strong early childhood workforce is an investment in the future prosperity and
well-being of our communities.”

The ECACE scholarship is designed to help address the shortage of qualified early childhood
educators and build a strong, well-prepared workforce. The scholarship was developed in
partnership with the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), the Illinois Community College
Board (ICCB), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Department of Human
Services (IDHS), and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), and is
funded by IDHS. To be eligible for the ECACE scholarship, those who are seeking credentials
and/or a degree in early childhood education must currently be working or have worked in the
early childhood field. This includes applicants who work or have worked in family childcare and
center-based care settings. Other eligibility requirements for the scholarship, and a list of
participating institutions, are available on ISAC’s ECACE Scholarship webpage.

The scholarship can cover as much as the total cost of attendance (which can include tuition and
fees, room and board, books, and transportation) for an academic year (including summer) after
other financial aid is received. Recipients of the scholarship are expected to continue or return to
teaching or direct services in the early childhood care and education field in Illinois after they
complete their program of study.

To apply for the scholarship for the 2023-24 academic year, students should complete the
2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) if they have not already done
so, as well as the ECACE scholarship application, and provide required documentation.
Eligible students who are currently enrolled in a participating institution are encouraged to work
with their financial aid advisor.

ECACE also has student support specifically designed for working adults. ECACE navigators
provide personalized assistance to students in navigating the postsecondary education
application and financial aid process. Students and prospective students in early childhood
education need only complete a simple form to connect with a navigator. Once in a
postsecondary program, the student will work with a program coach and/or mentor from the
institution, who will provide additional support to the student to help them persist and complete
their studies.