MAP grants

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.

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