Illinois Student Assistance Commission warns students to brace for likely MAP grant shortfall

Photo of hammer about to break nervous piggy bankNIU students who receive Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant funding are being warned that reductions are likely for the spring semester.

The current situation is reminiscent of the 2010-11 academic year, when limited state funding and high application volume made it necessary to lower second- and third-term awards.

More than 6,200 NIU students – more than one in three undergraduate students – rely upon MAP grant funding to help pay for their education. The average MAP recipient at NIU receives about $3,625 a year.

Students are urged to contact their state legislators as soon as possible to communicate the importance of full MAP funding. Contact information is available online.

An outcry before the fall 2009 veto session – Gov. Pat Quinn was among the most vocal MAP grant supporters – did convince state lawmakers to restore spring 2010 funding by approving an additional $205 million for the program.

Leaders of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission will similarly seek authority from the Illinois General Assembly to spend $33.5 million in funds that have been reserved for student financial assistance.

ISAC will make every effort to secure this additional spending authority during the six-day legislative session that begins Tuesday, Oct. 25. The request will not require additional General Revenue funds.

But because MAP will be just one of a variety of important issues that legislators might consider during that short session, ISAC leaders cannot guarantee that they will be successful in securing this additional spending authority.

And, even if additional spending authority is received to help alleviate some of the shortfall, second- and third-term reductions to 2011-12 MAP awards are still likely to become necessary.

NIU and other Illinois colleges and universities will receive specific information when and if a decision is made to reduce MAP awards for the second and third terms. They, in turn, will notify impacted students.

Funded by the State of Illinois and administered by the ISAC, MAP provides grant assistance to eligible students demonstrating financial need.

Each year, the amount of a student’s award depends on a number of factors, including program funding levels, which are determined by state legislators and the governor when they approve the annual state budget.

More information about how the fiscal condition of the State of Illinois and its budget affect college financial aid programs administered by ISAC is available online.

To contact NIU’s Student Financial Aid Office, call (815) 753-1395 or email finaid@niu.edu.

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