MAP grants

While a recent package of legislation approved by the Illinois General Assembly does some good things for state universities and colleges, it doesn’t guarantee four years of Monetary Assistance Program grants.

Lynne Baker, Managing Director of Communications for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, said a couple of conditions apply for students who want to renew MAP grants in succeeding years.

“Students still must apply every year,” she said, “and, while we would very much like it, there is no continuing appropriation for MAP.”

The federal government moved up the date that students can submit the Free Application For Federal Student Aid. 

The old FAFSA application period opened on January 1, and you couldn't complete the form until you filed your taxes. But as of last year, the federal government decided to accept "prior prior" tax returns, which meant families could file as early as Oct. 1. Carolyn Schloemann, financial aid director at the University of Illinois Springfield, said some people take that start date very seriously.

Carter Staley/NPR Illinois

The new state budget will fund Illinois colleges and universities at the level they received in 2015 — minus 10 percent. But there’s one area of higher education that got a boost.  

The Monetary Award Program, known as MAP, provides grants of up to $4,700 to low-income college students.

The two-year budget impasse caused a break in MAP funding, and affected students spoke out about how this interruption threw their lives into chaos. Lawmakers responded by increasing the amount going to MAP scholarships by 10 percent in the new state budget.

As part of his budget address, Governor Bruce Rauner called for a 10% funding increase to MAP Grants yesterday.  

This program helps low income Illinoisans pay college tuition.  Eric Zarnikow, who’s in charge of the program, says it could accommodate 12,000 more students, or increase the size of the grants.  However, it doesn’t pay for current MAP students.  ​

iit.edu

About 200 students protested in the Illinois Capitol rotunda Wednesday.  They’re part of the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education.

The group wanted to show lawmakers the importance of funding colleges and universities, as well as MAP grants for students.  

One of the protestors was Kiasee Ray,  a freshman at Dominican University in River Forest. She says the MAP grant is the reason she's in college today.

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

If you have a student who might be eligible for a MAP grant next year, you’re about out of time to get your financial aid application in.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission — the state agency that administers MAP grants — announced Tuesday that the deadline for applications for MAP will be Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.

The cut-off date varies according to expected funding and numbers of applications.

Families need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA.

A survey by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission found Illinois colleges and universities are handling MAP Grant funding in different ways as state funding runs out.  

Colleges and universities are again deciding whether to front grant money to low-income students who are supposed to be receiving state aid as Illinois' budget remains uncertain.

The Southern Illinoisan reports a survey recently released by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission suggests some schools that covered grants in the fall aren't guaranteeing to this spring.

The commission administers the grants through the Monetary Award Program.

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission reports a drop in submitted financial aid applications compared to 2015, but also says it may be too soon to tell.

That’s because the FAFSA filing period for next school year opened early on Oct. 1, rather than January.

Those who apply will use their 2015 tax information and will not need to update it with their 2016 taxes.

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

Chants broke out several times during a rally at the MLK Commons of Northern Illinois University's campus.

Illinois college students and DeKalb community members gathered Thursday to press lawmakers to make sure MAP grants are fully funded.

Students raised signs with messages like “End our dread – fund Higher Ed.”

Different speakers shared their experiences and urged people to reach out to their local lawmakers.

Students from Governors State University traveled to NIU to join the conversation. 

Need Help With College Funds? File Your FAFSA Now!

Oct 10, 2016
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Illinois hasn't set aside any money to pay for the Monetary Award Program grants that help lower-income students go to college, but students still should hurry to fill out financial aid forms. 

That’s because some financial aid is awarded on more than just the basis of need.

Lynne Baker, with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, says students need to submit the Free Application For Federal Student Aid – known as FAFSA -- to qualify for state programs too. That form can be completed online.

Illinois Democrats have approved a measure to fully fund tuition grants for low-income students despite Republican concerns the state can't pay for its promises.

The Senate approved the measure Thursday on a 39-15 vote. The bill goes to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner next.

The measure sponsored by Democratic leaders House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton would appropriate about $397 million to colleges and universities for tuition grants under the Monetary Assistance Program.

The plan doesn't include funding for colleges' operational costs.

Students living illegally in the U.S. who struggle to pay for college because they don't qualify for financial aid are urging Illinois lawmakers to make them eligible for state help.

    

Legislation that passed the state Senate this month with bipartisan support would make Illinois among the few states in the country that let immigrant students get financial aid regardless of their legal status.

The measure is awaiting action in the Illinois House.

MAP Grants On Their Way To Illinois Universities

Apr 28, 2016
Jenna Dooley

Illinois' Comptroller says universities will soon receive stopgap MAP grant money.

Leslie Munger says the Illinois Student Assistance Commission sent $164 million dollars in grant vouchers to her office. 

Munger says her office turned around the payments immediately, but she also calls on lawmakers to approve a long-term solution.

“It is critical that they now finish the job and pass a comprehensive balanced budget that allows us to keep our promises not only to students,” Munger said in a news release.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Governor Bruce Rauner today is approving a compromise between Republicans and Democrats that sends emergency money to public universities.

    

But that compromise doesn’t mean the two parties are getting along any better.

This state money is coming just as Chicago State University had said it would close its doors Friday.

The top House Republican Jim Durkin says it took Chicago State’s closing to get Democrats and House Speaker Michael Madigan to quit playing games.

Illinois college students will march for higher education funding and MAP grants in Springfield next week.

At least 60 students plan to take part in the march. That’s according to the march’s Facebook event.

The “March for MAP” was created by a University of Illinois Springfield student. The event was inspired by the legislature's failure to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto to a bill to fund MAP grants.

Many Illinois community colleges and universities will not cover low-income tuition waivers in the fall, unless they get state money.

    

That's the message from higher education leaders to the state's 125,000 students who are eligible for the monetary assistance program, or MAP, grants.

Public colleges and universities that have so far covered the cost for MAP students are sounding the alarm that they may not continue.

Twitter: @HarperCollege

A suburban Chicago community college has told 19 full-time and 10 part-time employees they'll lose their jobs June 30.

Harper College in Palatine said Thursday it is eliminating other positions through early retirement to eligible faculty members and other steps.  

The college says it is owed $8 million in state aid and $1.5 million in Monetary Award Program grants for low-income students.  

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

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.

Higher Education Leaders Discuss Budget Fears In Springfield

Mar 10, 2016
State of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers heard Thursday from an assortment of higher education leaders asking for funding.

They used terms like “starving,” “dismantling” and “economic suicide” as they tried to persuade state senators to find some way to heal the budget impasse. 

One of the last witnesses was Eric Zarnikow, director of the state agency that runs the Monetary Award Program. MAP grants help needy college kids with tuition.

Zarnikow quoted his mother, who he says always warned him not to eat the seed corn.

WIUM

Higher education continues to be caught in Illinois lawmakers' political crossfire.

And not just because the House failed to override a veto of legislation that would have allowed at least SOME funding for the first time in eight months.

Lawmakers spent most of yesterday debating how to pay for Illinois' colleges and universities --- with nothing material to show for it by the time they'd adjourned.

Then, once the Capitol cleared out, an evening email from House Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown announcing a "new compromise effort."

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

Just days after vetoing a measure to help low-income college students, Gov. Bruce Rauner signaled he's open to another way to make it happen.

Rauner's reason for rejecting the Democrats' funding plan was that it would have sent Illinois deeper into debt.

But Rauner, a Republican, has said he'd be OK with an alternate GOP approach -- because it's paired with money to back it up. He says, however, that he will approve money for what are known as MAP grants (via the Monetary Award Program) if lawmakers loosen the rules under which government and universities make purchases.

Susan Stephens

Rauner says spending $721 million on MAP grants and community college operations "would explode the State's budget deficit."

Illinois is nearing the end of its eighth month without any budget.

Certain social services, as well as higher education, are taking the brunt of the impasse. There are reports of students looking to go out of state for school.

Thursday, the governor called that "tragic."

"I would encourage the students to stay and see if they can be patient and persistent along with us," he said.

A group of Democratic lawmakers yesterday made a public ceremony out of delivering legislation to Gov. Bruce Rauner's office.

    

They're attempting to persuade him to fund MAP grants, which help low-income students cover tuition at Illinois colleges and universities.

Students and employees from several colleges applauded as State Senator Donne Trotter marched into Rauner's office.

Allen Miggins, an admissions counselor from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, said the ongoing budget impasse is making his job difficult on many levels.

Illinois officials say college students should continue to apply for financial aid, even though the state budget impasse has put grants for needy students on hold.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is encouraging students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The form determines if a student is eligible for most financial aid programs, including the Illinois Monetary Award Program, or MAP grants.

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

The President of the Illinois Senate, a Democrat,  is encouraging Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to rethink his priorities on student aid legislation, but the governor was quick to repeat his promise of a veto.

Senate President John Cullerton says he'll hold onto the legislation until Feb. 16 to give the governor time to "cool off," then he'll send it along.

In a statement, Cullerton urges Rauner to "not act rashly, but in the best interest of students."

Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

The budget stalemate has meant no state funding this year for state universities, community colleges and Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants. A central Illinois Republican says he has a solution.

State Sen. Chapin Rose of Mahomet proposes restoring higher education funding, although somewhat lower than in the past. His proposal would fund state universities at 80% of last year’s levels and community college at 90%; MAP grant funding would remain at the same level as last year.

College campuses (and the politics behind them) are taking center stage in Springfield's festering stalemate.

College of DuPage

College campuses (and the politics behind them) are taking center stage in Springfield's festering stalemate.

Budget gridlock has kept money from going to higher education since July. Then, in a matter of hours on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers approved a plan that would pump $720 million dollars into the system. 

Republicans are calling it a "cruel hoax" that's giving students false hope, even though they, too, say they want to help higher ed. It's a scenario that demonstrates the partisan tensions -- and politics -- at play.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

The president of the Federation of Independent Colleges is calling the lack of funding for higher education in Illinois a "crisis."

Dave Tretter's organization represents about 60 private colleges that get no state funding other than MAP grants -- the Monetary Award Program funds awarded to low-income students.

With the state in its seventh month without a budget, many schools have told students they'll have to repay the portion of tuition the state failed to cover.

Tretter says students will turn to neighboring states.

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