State suspends MAP award announcements

The state’s budget woes are having a ripple effect for needy college students who are being denied financial assistance due to a lack of education dollars.

The state’s budget woes are having a ripple effect for needy college students who are being denied financial assistance due to a lack of education dollars.

According to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the agency that distributes the state’s Monetary Award Program, it has received 5,074 eligible MAP grant applications in the four days since the agency began denying eligible applicants due to lack of funds.

As a result the state began suspending award announcements April 19.

However, students who were eligible but denied could still receive a full or partial MAP grant for the 2010-2011 academic year if additional funds are received.

The agency’s executive director said it is currently searching for ways to generate additional revenue streams to fund the program.

“The agency developed a proposal to generate additional revenue sources for MAP to help meet this unprecedented demand,” said Andrew Davis, executive director of the ISAC.  “Our Monetary Award Program Capital Investment Bond Proposal is a secondary funding mechanism intended to provide additional dollars for the program without raising taxes, using revenue-supported bonds to supplement the state’s appropriated funds for the entire Monetary Award Program. It doesn’t change the formula for MAP award eligibility.”

The agency projects the total number of MAP-eligible students will be 409,000 and estimates applications received after April 19th from students who would have been eligible but are now denied due to the lack of funds will total 220,000.

For now, Davis advises students to continue to complete the 2010-11 Free Application for Federal Student Aid as there is still federal financial aid available in the form of Pell grants and student loans. Of the 5,074 applicants denied the state’s need-based college financial aid program thus far, 3,056 (60 percent) selected a community college as their top choice on the FAFSA.  

ISAC estimates over 140,000 community college students will not receive awards. The maximum award a student may receive through MAP is $4,968, with the average award being $2,600 and $2,700.  The last time the ISAC paid out each of the claims it received (139,421) with no award suspensions was the 2000-01 academic year.  

“For years, the state of Illinois has made a robust commitment to this need-based financial aid program, and we are grateful for the support we have for the Monetary Award Program by our elected officials,” said Davis.  “Now is an extraordinary time, and we need to be creative in providing solutions in keeping college accessible and affordable for all Illinois students.”

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender.

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