As Budget Impasse Continues, Some Illinois Colleges Dipping Into Students MAP Grant Money

College students in caps and gowns for graduation ceremony.
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A recent survey from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission shows that colleges and universities are handling the state budget impasse in a confusing variety of ways. The commission is the state agency that administers the Monetary Award Program, known as the MAP grant, designed to help pay tuition for low-income students.

Since state funding for higher education is set to end next week, some schools have been crediting students for the grants, others expect the students to repay them, and about 20 percent of schools are dipping into MAP students' federal financial aid.

Both Pell and MAP are reserved for low-income students, and this tactic leaves their families scrambling.

Julie Post, a single mom who is blind, says her son turned down offers from three out-of-state schools because he was counting on the MAP grant. Now she's burned through her savings and taken out loans, as has her son John, a junior at Bradley University.

"And we know the people making these decisions are not waiting for $5,000 per year of school”, said Post. “It doesn't change their lives, but it changes mine, and it changes my kids."

Some schools will require students to repay MAP funds, and will not allow them to register, obtain a transcript or graduate without repayment. ​​

The survey comes with the caveat that only 70 percent of schools responded, and some of those didn't answer questions completely. ​

Story source: Illinois Public Radio