NIU not able to offset MAP cuts

By Matt Michalek

After waffling on the decision for two weeks, NIU will not be helping students who had 12 percent of their financial aid cut earlier this month.

NIU announced last week that it cannot help students offset the money they will have to pay back the state. Students receiving aid under the state’s Monetary Award Program saw their level of aid sliced because of the 3 percent across-the-board state cutback in January.

Barbara Henley, vice president for Student Affairs, said NIU could not cover the cuts for the MAP recipients because it did not have the money.

“If we had covered every student, it would have cost NIU approximately $373,000,” she said.

NIU Bursar Richard Cochrane said most students who receive the MAP award should expect bills from the Bursar’s Office sometime during the week.

If the student still owes NIU money, the amount will just be added to the old bill. If the student does not owe NIU any money, a new bill will be sent to the student for the amount of the MAP reduction, he said.

Students who cannot afford to pay this new bill will not be restricted from summer and fall registration, Cochrane said.

Jerry Augsburger, NIU financial aid director, said 3,400 NIU students receive the MAP award and will end up owing money.

The repayment is a result of cuts made in the program by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission on January 31.

If the amount of money owed to NIU is equal or less than the amount of the reduction for the MAP awards, the student will be allowed to receive summer and fall registration materials, and will be allowed to register, Cochrane said.

“We are allowing the students a grace period to pay the bill generated from the MAP reduction,” he said.

NIU student Renee Zonzo said she receives the MAP award, and added that she was unaware of the cuts until she read the story in the paper.

“I don’t know where they expect me to come up with the money to pay them,” she said. “The reason I get financial aid is because I cannot afford to pay the bill.”

Depending on their individual financial aid packages, some students will end up not owing NIU any money. Others will have the amount of the reduction added on to their pre-existing bills, or get new bills, Cochrane said.

A MAP award of $1,050 would pay back $126.

Gov. Jim Edgar’s 3 percent cut cost higher education about $50 million. NIU lost $2.6 million from the recision.