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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

What The Lack Of MAP Grant Funding Costs Illinois State Universities

A lack of funding for the Monetary Award Program -- or MAP grants -- have cost Illinois public universities more than $72 million overall.

That's according to data provided by each of the state universities and their campuses.

The Illinois House passed a bill earlier this month that would help fund the MAP grants. That's in light of the state's budget impasse.

The legislation was introduced to the state Senate this week, but public universities that temporarily covered those costs still haven’t been reimbursed.

One school -- Northeastern Illinois University -- reported the MAP grant amount owed by the state and the amount paid by the university are different numbers. School spokesman Mike Hines says that's because not all students completed the MAP grant application process. 

That means all of the schools were able to fully cover MAP grant funds for the fall 2015 semester “in good faith” – or under the assumption that the state of Illinois will reimburse them. The amount the state owes each school for MAP grants this school year ranges from almost $1.4 million to more than $30 million.

All but one of the universities reported they were able to cover MAP grants for the spring 2016 semester in that same “good faith.” Those numbers are still to be determined for the University of Illinois and its campuses.

Northern Illinois University covered more than $9 million for MAP grants for this school year. That’s for almost 5,000 students eligible for the program.

Al Phillips, vice president of finance at NIU, says he expects the Senate will pass the bill funding MAP grants.

“Whatever gets passed – and eventually we will get some level of appropriation – MAP will be funded,” Phillips said. “They would probably fund MAP before they would fund the public universities.”

Phillips says if there’s still no MAP grant funding or state budget by next fall, NIU will not be able to cover the grants for that semester.

But Phillips says he doesn’t think it will get to that point. He says he thinks something will hopefully be worked out within the next week or two.

“As the number of the public universities – such as Chicago State and Eastern and Western – started talking about the challenges they face and possibly cutting back on programs and furloughs or layoffs, once the general assembly was in session, you started to see a much more focused effort on some level of funding for higher education,” Phillips said.

U of I has the most MAP-eligible students at more than 15,000 across its three campuses. Governors State University has the least with about 1,000.

Data was unavailable for Chicago State University.

MAP grants are only available for undergraduate students.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Corrects data in tables in slide show and in story body. Also corrects and clarifies information provided by Northeastern University.