Scholarship amounts depend on passage of proposed tax hike

By Louise M. Koryta

A decrease in the number of NIU scholarship and grant recipients and the amount of money they receive might result if Illinois Governor James Thompson’s tax increase proposal is not passed, according to an Illinois Board of Higher Education report.

At Tuesday’s press conference, NIU President John LaTourette said the proposal would increase the state income tax from 2.5 to 3 percent or “one-half penny on the dollar.”

The IBHE report stated, “Student access and choice will be restricted without the expansion of the Monetary Award Program (MAP)” if the proposal does not pass.

obert Clement, Illinois State Scholarship Commission director of agency relations, said MAP, which includes a maximum award of $3,100 or up to the cost of tuition and mandatory fees, is one of the “big grant programs” handled through the organization.

Clement also said the MAP award possibly could be affected if the proposal is not passed. He said, “There would be no increase for that (the maximum award) even if tuition went up.” He said applications currently are processed through March 15 but the cut-off date would be moved up to sometime in October, meaning fewer applications would be reviewed.

Nick Rengler, Student Financial Aid associate director, said $2,655,609 was awarded through MAP in 1986.

Another of the 13 programs handled through the ISSC is the $500 Merit Recognition Scholarship which was available to high school students graduating in the top 5 percent of their class. This scholarship also might be affected, Clement said. He said because the state legislature expanded the program last summer to include the top 10 percent of graduating seniors, it is possible twice the amount of students will be considered although the amount of money available will not increase.

Other ISSC grants possibly affected if the tax increase is not passed are the Illinois Veterans Grant and the National Guard Program, which already are in a “deepening deficit” situation, Clement said. According to Rengler, $960,000 was awarded last year to veterans.

engler said about $36 million was made available in fiscal 1986 to students through a variety of programs which are funded by the state and federal governments as well as private individuals. He said if all sources of funding are considered, 13,955 NIU students received some type of financial aid.

engler said he is not sure what the impact on financial aid would be if the tax increase proposal is not passed.