Rose may try again for MAP grant limits

Rose may try again for MAP grant limits

SPRINGFIELD — Rebuffed three times before by his legislative colleagues, state Sen. Chapin Rose said Thursday that he may again try to prohibit state Monetary Award Program grant money from going to students who attend for-profit schools such as DeVry University.

The Mahomet Republican's earlier efforts to block the Illinois Student Assistance Commission from awarding the need-based grants to undergraduate students at proprietary schools were killed.

Last year, according to ISAC Executive Director Eric Zarnikow, students attending for-profit schools got about 4 percent of the $365 million MAP appropriation, or about $11.2 million. Next year's state budget, proposed Wednesday by Gov. Bruce Rauner, allocates $401 million for MAP grants.

During a Senate Higher Education Committee hearing Thursday, Rose focused on DeVry, which gets about 40 percent of all the proprietary schools' MAP funding.

"Is this the same DeVry that has a Federal Trade Commission complaint against it for deceptive practices?" Rose asked.

In fact, Illinois-based DeVry agreed to a $100 million settlement last year over false advertising claims.

"At some point in time, this state has to get serious about prioritizing the institutions that it owns, the four-year public universities that it owns and the community colleges that it owns, to make sure that every kid no matter where they are or what circumstance they come from, gets aid. We keep siphoning off large sums of money," he said. "The repercussions are real, and the public institutions, they give every child a chance."

Rose also suggested, though, that MAP-eligible students going to community colleges and public universities should get priority over students attending private universities. ISAC data shows that in the most recent year, $141 million in MAP funds went to students at four-year public universities, $139 million went to students at private not-for-profit schools, $27 million went to community college students and $11.2 million went to students at proprietary schools.

He asserted that the way MAP funding is distributed "creates a discrepancy on behalf of the taxpayers" and that the state is "starting to subsidize institutions that aren't in the public mission."

Students attending for-profit schools have been eligible for MAP grants since 1998.

"You think the University of Chicago has enough space or cares to give every child a chance? Heck no. That's not their mission. Their mission is to be an elite institution. Great, they're one of the best.

"But is that where a kid from Greenup, Illinois, gets a chance to go to school? Or a kid from the South Side of Chicago, or a kid from Palatine who maybe doesn't have an A-plus GPA or a 32 ACT? No, it's not. They go to Eastern, Northern, Urbana, UI-Chicago, Western, Carbondale. And dang it, if we don't get serious about MAP and how we're subsidizing not just private schools but — $3.7 million for a school that has a Federal Trade Commission complaint against it? Give me a break."

Zarnikow responded, "I think it would be desirable to have MAP recipients go to the University of Chicago. Quite frankly, we look at low-income students, and I would love for them to be able to go to the University of Chicago. If a MAP grant is what makes the difference for them to be admitted and to be able to go, I think that's great.

"Our perspective is that we don't want to do things to discourage schools from accepting low-income students if they can academically make it there. We want our recipients to go to great schools."

Also Thursday, Zarnikow said it would cost the state about $550 million — about $150 million more than the Rauner budget calls for — to award MAP grants at the current award levels to all eligible applicants.

About 120,000 low-income students were served by MAP in the last year it was fully funded. The average MAP award is about $2,700.

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David Prochaska wrote on February 18, 2017 at 9:02 am

Seems straightforward to prohibit MAP awards to for-profit schools. Why “rebuffed three times before”? Why “earlier efforts… were killed”?

Poor reporting. Sad!