MAP grants

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.

Legislation filed yesterday asks the state to provide $168 million in tuition for low-income college students who were promised MAP grants last fall.

Thousands of students across the state rely on grants from the Monetary Award Program to pay up to 5-thousand-dollars of their tuition and fees.

But MAP grants have been a casualty of the state's budget stalemate, now in its seventh month.

Lawmakers have filed at least three separate measures trying to fund MAP, including a new plan in the Senate to repay colleges for floating MAP students through the fall semester.

Illinois Student Assistance Commission

When a police officer, firefighter or prison guard is killed or disabled in the line of duty, the state promises to provide their dependents with a college education. But the budget impasse has put that promise on hold, says Eric Zarnikow, director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

www.staterepevans33.com

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus plans to organize students to demonstrate over the holiday break if an agreement to end the budget impasse is not reached.

The protest subject will be MAP grants for lower-income students, which have not been funded this fiscal year because of the lack of a spending plan.

Senator Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat, is the chairwoman of the caucus. 

Many Illinois colleges and universities fronted the money for income-based Monetary Award Program grants to students in the fall semester. That's despite the lack of a state budget and no assurance that they'd be reimbursed. 

Major schools will continue covering them for the spring, although others are telling students they can't cover the debt for the coming semester. 

The list below shows a sampling of schools, their enrollment, the number of students receiving MAP grants in the fall, and the total amount covered.

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