CHICAGO — At its June 18 commission meeting, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) unanimously approved a proclamation recognizing students’ contributions to the restoration of funding for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010.
Donald McNeil, chairman of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, said, “It’s rather unusual these days to see students organize around one issue and let their voices be heard. Students from all sectors of higher education—MAP recipients and non-recipients alike—came together with a common interest to bring forth change. We are extremely grateful for the support that MAP has received from students across the state.”
The budget initially approved by the Illinois General Assembly drastically reduced the General Revenue Fund support for MAP for the 2009-10 academic year, leaving the Commission without adequate funds to provide full-year MAP grants to all eligible students claiming grants. In response, ISAC front-loaded awards to the first term, allowing students to attend in the fall by utilizing the full award at that time, leaving no MAP money for the second part of the academic year.
During the summer and fall of 2009, students from across the state worked shoulder-to shoulder with classmates, parents, faculty and staff, demanding action from state leaders to restore MAP funding. During the General Assembly’s October veto session, an additional $205 million lump-sum appropriation was made to restore full-year MAP grants to approximately 141,500 Illinois students.
“We should all be proud of the responsible, energetic and focused political involvement of Illinois students in restoring MAP,” said ISAC Executive Director Andrew Davis. “The people of Illinois have made it clear that the program is important, and we encourage students and recent graduates to remain involved in the political process--in particular, issues related to college affordability, student financial aid and the Monetary Award Program.”
Demand for student financial assistance continues to increase as Illinoisans struggle with unemployment and underemployment while tuition rises at most campuses. Through June 10, ISAC has recorded a 22 percent increase in MAP-eligible applications, and the agency has denied MAP benefits to nearly 40,000 eligible students since suspending award announcements on April 19, despite receiving an appropriation of approximately $405 million for MAP.
The Commission provides further background information regarding the problem, research and resources, and weekly updates to MAP grant suspension activity at the following Web site, www.collegezone.com/mapcap.
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission provides students of all ages and backgrounds with the resources and support to obtain financial aid for higher education. A state agency, ISAC has paved the path to post-secondary education with innovative programs for over 50 years. The commission continued its mission to make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students by administering over 183,000 grants and scholarships totaling over $430 million in FY2009 alone.
The Commission provides educational funding with student loans and via numerous programs such as the Monetary Award Program (MAP), the Illinois Veteran Grant and College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid Tuition Program. Students and families have free access to a wealth of financial aid and college planning information at ISAC’s family of Web sites available at www.KnowHow2GOIllinois.org.