Program helps students pay bills

By Carly Niceley

Illinois offers college students and low-income families the opportunity to become part of a program that will pay electric and/or gas bills.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a public aid program administrated by the state. There are 30 agencies in Illinois.

“You do not have to pay anything back because it is based off a grant,” said Theresa Roff, who has been working with LIHEAP for four years.

This program can benefit college students if they are having trouble with bills due to low or no income.

“The service is great for NIU students in apartments since many do not have jobs because of classes and need a little more help financially,” Roff said.

Senior NIU student Misty Lawton has been using this program for two years, and it has helped her through her two years at NIU.

“In the winter months, with Christmas, it is harder to stay ahead and having your Nicor and ComEd bills paid for helps so much,” Lawton said.

Lawton thinks many NIU students could benefit from this program because it is one less bill to worry about.

“It is sad because not many students seem to know about it, and they are there to help and it does not require anything except a low income,” Lawton said.

Low-income families and college students often deal with the stress of paying bills.

“This program is great to have because the economy is not good in this area, and housing is extremely unaffordable,” Senior Center coordinator Cheryl Bird said.

Many low-income families have taken advantage of this program and have benefited from using it.

Combined, DeKalb and Kane counties have had about 7,000 families join the program, Roff said.

People who meet income requirements are encouraged to call the program at 758-3835 to set up an interview. The deadline to apply is May 30.

Roff said applicants must bring to the interview a copy of current heat and electric bills, proof of Social Security numbers, and proof of income over 30 days.