DeKALB — Good news could be coming to those who receive grants from the Monetary Award Program. Gov. J.B. Pritzker proposed a $50 million boost to help the program in his 2020 budget.
MAP is a program which provides grants to low-income Illinois residents who attend Illinois colleges. Students can apply for MAP grants when they fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. MAP grants do not need to be repaid.
Pritzker’s budget plans to prioritize MAP funding by granting the program a $50 million increase for the 2019-2020 school year.
If the general assembly includes Pritzker’s $50 million boost in the final budget, it will then be signed by the governor and take effect for the next school year.
The $50 million increase would raise the MAP grant appropriations to $451 million, according to Pritzker’s FY20 budget proposal. In FY18 and FY19, $401 million was the set provision. In FY16 the budget was even lower and allowed $320 million for MAP grants.
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is responsible for providing MAP grants to students.
Lynne Baker, managing director of communications at ISAC, said ISAC could be able to serve more students and make the award sizes a little bit larger with the additional $50 million.
“Understand that with limited funds and more demand than funding, ISAC always has to weigh the effectiveness of [giving] awards to more students or increasing the size of the award to help ensure they’re large enough to truly help students to attend school,” Baker said.
Baker said in the 2017-2018 academic year 130,000 students claimed MAP awards. She also said in the 2017-2018 school year around 97,000 students were eligible for MAP but didn’t receive funding because there wasn’t enough. Those students were then put on a waitlist.
Baker said MAP grants work on a first come first served basis. The faster students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the better chance they have of receiving an award.
The final budget passed by the general assembly isn’t finalized until June 30, and financial aid awards are announced to students in late March through early April, leaving ISAC to estimate their budget for MAP.
Rebecca Babel, student financial aid director, said the governor’s proposal is good news for NIU, but it is still too early to see how it will impact students.
“The new governor really values the program and has a great deal of support for this program,” Babel said. “He is an advocate for this program, and that is a very reassuring and great thing to find out.”
Babel said in the 2017-2018 school year, 5,858 students at NIU receive MAP grants.
She said this is just short of 40 percent of NIU’s full-time undergraduate student population.
Babel said the school won’t have a final budget until the summer, and by that time, most students will probably have made a decision on school they’re attending.
“I think it would make a difference in the comfort level of their affordability,” Babel said. “Because it’s something we don’t know until very late in the decision-making cycle, I don’t know the direct impact it will have.”
Marquis Lamb, first-year hospitality and tourism management major said he currently receives MAP grants.
Lamb said the awards made it easier for him to decide where to go to college.
“It gave me a chance to get the education I wanted,” Lamb said. “The awards gave me extra money and I was able to take out less loans.”