Thousand of Illinois students apparently don’t want to risk the state's MAP grant delays and disappointments.
New numbers from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission show a 13 percent drop in Monetary Assistance Program applications this year.
“It's unprecedented,” said Jim Applegate, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Higher Education. “That's thousands and thousands fewer MAP students who'll be going to our two-year colleges, four-year public (universities), and private colleges as well.”
New applications are down about 13-percent down from the 320-thousand students that the Illinois Student Assistance Commission said were eligible for a MAP grant last year.
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“If you look at the gaps for low-income (students), and students of color in Illinois. They have been growing,” Applegate said. “Hispanics are our fastest growing population. We need all that talent. We can't afford to throw it away.”
Matt Bierman, Western Illinois University’s interim budget director, said he's not surprised given the ongoing state budget impasse. “Clearly after this last year, state government has put those grants in question.”
Bierman said Illinois lawmakers need to decide what to tell students and universities. But he said schools need to decide what to do.
“As long as the Illinois Student Assistance Commission continues to award MAP grants, we're going to have to make those decisions,” Bierman said. “Are we going to carry the liability for the state not passing a budget?”
Commission officials say, despite the drop, they once again expect demand for MAP grants to far exceed available state dollars.