State Issues Midnight Deadline For MAP Grant Applicants
Each year, Illinois keeps moving up the ‘suspend’ date for college-bound students to apply for the Monetary Awards Program, or MAP grants.
This year, those wanting financial aid are encouraged to apply by 12 a.m. on Friday. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission said it expects to get a record 280,000 FAFSA’s, or Free Applications for Federal Student Aid, and can only help roughly half of them.
This marks the earliest the agency has cut off awards to potential recipients. On Wednesday, the University of Illinois' Office of Student Financial Aid issued an urgent notice to students and those applying for school to submit a FAFSA by Thursday,
Director of Government Relations Katharine Gricevich said anyone filing later goes on a waiting list.
“Reasons that could happen could be if - fewer people show up at Illinois schools to claim their grants than we projected, or people took fewer hours than we projected, or if we to be appropriated additional money," she said.
The agency cut off applications on March 2, 2013, but additional funding that came through later awarded grants to those on the waiting list.
The average award for MAP grants is currently between $2,500 and $2,700. The state currently has about $370 million available for the program.
Governor Pat Quinn says he's committed to keeping lawmakers in Springfield this month until a grant program for low-income college students is extended through next spring. Quinn and some of the students who rely on the Monetary Awards Program, or MAP Grants, urged the legislature restore that funding at the University of Illinois' Urbana campus Wednesday. But the Governor says he's hoping to avoid any special session days beyond the six on the legislature's fall schedule.
"We've got to go back and make sure this program is safe," says Quinn. "I had to do this with Human Services over the summer - we went 45 days of overtime but we got that improved. But we are in a tough economic time. So it calls for sacrifices by the General Assembly to do hard things." Proposals to fund the grants include a tax amnesty program and 1-dollar tax on cigarettes. But Quinn says he also wants to look at loopholes in the Illinois Tax Code, including a tax break the state provides to oil companies for offshore drilling. About 200 students and faculty were at the rally on the campus quad, where freshman Edward Washington said he stands to lose 25-hundred dollars before next semester.
"If we do not take action and reinstate the MAP grant, the General Assembly will send a message to prospective college students all across the state," says Washington. "That is - that college is for rich folk. Prospective students shouldn't even bother to apply because they just can't afford it. Does this sound right to you? I urge the members of the General Assembly not to make this a political issue." U of I Director of Financial Aid Dan Mann says if there's no new revenue for the program by November, his office will work with every student relying on the MAP Grant to see what options they might have for the spring semester - but Mann admits those choices will be limited. About 5700 students on the Urbana campus use the MAP Grants.