SPRINGFIELD - Even during tough fiscal times, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced today he will preserve funding in the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for the state's largest student financial aid program, the Monetary Award Program, commonly known as MAP.
MAP provides grants to undergraduate college students, based on their financial need, to help pay tuition and fees at qualified Illinois colleges and universities. Administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), MAP grants have been awarded to approximately 140,000 Illinois students for the 2003-2004 academic year in grants totaling over $338 million.
"The Governor continues to prove his commitment to making college affordable for all students, especially low-income students," said Larry Matejka, Executive Director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. "Keeping funding as substantial as the Monetary Award Program in tact at a time when the state faces an unprecedented budget deficit is highly commendable. The Commission applauds the priority the Governor has assigned to need-based student financial aid."
In keeping with the Governor's pledge to do more with less, the Commission will help more students in 2004-2005 through MAP, for the same funding level of Fiscal Year 2004. The demand for need-based aid has risen substantially in recent years, as students and families struggle to cope with sharply rising college costs. The Commission expects to award MAP grants totaling roughly $338.7 million to approximately 143,000 students in 2004-2005, under the budget requested by the Governor. The increase in the number of students served, relative to the 2003-2004 academic year, is a result of modifications made to the formula used by ISAC to calculate financial need. These changes were approved by the Commission and are supported by the Governor, as a means of redirecting limited program dollars to the neediest of students. In addition to helping more students, ISAC also projects that many students receiving a MAP grant in the coming year will receive larger awards to help offset rising tuition and fee charges.
Other student aid programs that are protected from cuts in the Governor's fiscal year 2005 budget include the Illinois Future Teacher Corps Scholarship, which the Governor first implemented last year. An estimated 1,100 students pursuing a teaching degree received scholarships this year, after pledging to teach in a subject shortage area, such as mathematics, science, or special education. About 250 students benefited from an additional scholarship by also promising to teach for five years in a hard-to-staff Illinois school. Governor Blagojevich has pledged $7 million to fund the program again in 2004-2005.