IBHE proposes MAP increase

By Wendy Arquilla

There may be more funds available to financial aid students in the near future, but an increased number of students eligible for that aid might spread it thin.

“We always want an increase in funding to help cover inflation from year to year, but even if the increased aid is approved, distribution isn’t as simple,” said Financial Aid Director Jerry Augsburger.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) proposed a 6.5 percent increase to the Monetary Award Program (MAP) and an increase of the number of students receiving grants from 108,200 to 126,400.

Augsburger said a major factor in the increase of financial aid students is the reauthorization process. “This is a federal-level process which decides what students are eligible based on need,” he said.

He said the process omitted the consideration of home and farm equity in the applications for financial aid.

“Students from middle-income families end up with a greater eligibility because families aren’t expected to contribute as much to the student’s education,” Augsburger said.

“Even though this decision is on the federal level, it affects state-level decisions,” he said. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), which administers the MAP awards, should expect a rise in eligibility for the awards.

However, Augsburger said ISAC uses a system of rationing funds to try to balance the amount of funds and eligible students.

Ruth Slottat, manager of Media and Community Relations at ISAC, said there are many options available to ISAC if the budget is passed on how to ration the money. She said these options will be discussed at a meeting later this month.