State government funding may cause cuts to MAP grants

By Andrea Azzo

Students may see their Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants shrink later this year.

On Oct. 3, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) sent an email to students who filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The email stated there was a funding shortfall in the state government threatening the later term amounts students will receive in the MAP grants.

“It’s not fair for government to even consider cutting MAP,” said freshman finance major Jack Medard, who said he received more than half of his tuition from financial aid. “I don’t know what I’d do without [the money I received].”

According to ISAC, the amount of money each student receives through MAP 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. MAP is only part of a number of issues the state government has to deal with, ISAC stated.

Inali Saghu, associate director for operations & programs for Student Financial Aid, said there was a 5 percent reduction for the total 2011-2012 MAP Grant awards.

“The reduction resulted in a $248 decrease from the previous maximum award,” Saghu said. “It will not be known for certain until the end of the calendar year if spring 2012 MAP awards will need to be further reduced.”

Junior marketing major Sarah Harant said it’s unfortunate the government needs to make these decisions.

“[P]eople obviously depend on that money, and with the economy being as tight as it is, there are even less ways to pay for college,” Harant said.

Saghu said there have been a number of students and parents who have contacted the office regarding MAP Grant funding.

“They want to know the MAP grant funding status for spring and next academic year,” Saghu said. “They have also asked if it will affect their fall 2011 MAP grant award, which it will not.”

On Oct. 25, ISAC will meet with state legislators during a six-day session to help students and save MAP from being cut. However, ISAC’s notice states it “cannot guarantee that it will be successful.”

Freshman history major Michael Gerbas said the government spends too much money on things like construction.

“Government should support people who need financial aid,” he said.

Medard said it is contradictory for the government to consider cutting MAP since President Barack Obama made a speech about the importance of education.

“It’s going to eliminate kids from going to college,” Medard said. “Do you really want that? Kids are our future.”

The Student Financial Aid Office’s staff is closely monitoring the situation and will provide updates as soon as they become available, Saghu said.