SPRINGFIELD – More of Illinois' neediest college students will receive grants through the state's Monetary Award Program this school year, but the grants will be smaller than in years past, according to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
MAP grant amounts were cut by 5 percent last year, and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission recently decided to cut them again this year by 10 percent.
Larry Matejka, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, said reducing the grant amount will allow 9,000 more students to receive MAP grants who would not have gotten them otherwise.
Another 5,000 students in their fifth year of studies will be able to receive grants because of $6 million Gov. Rod Blagojevich approved to reinstate the fifth-year MAP grants that had been eliminated last year.
That's a total of 14,000 extra students that can be helped this school year, Matejka said.
The MAP scholarships can be used at community colleges and public and private universities. Grantees are either paid the maximum grant amount or the sum of tuition and fees at their school of choice, whichever is less.
With the 10 percent reduction, the maximum award amount will be $4,471 next school year, compared to $4,720 this year.
At the same time, in-state tuition for the University of Illinois will go up 5 percent, this fall, to $5,568, plus $1,176 in fees, not counting health insurance charges. Tuition at other state schools is also rising.
Matejka said the reduction in the MAP grant award amount was needed because without it, the commission would only be able to fill applications received through mid-July, despite the thousands of adult students and very low-income students expected to apply during late summer and early fall.
"I can't think of a better investment for the future of the state of Illinois than helping our students gain a college education," he said.
According to a study by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, most students who receive MAP grants go on to finish their degrees and get jobs in Illinois with starting salaries higher than the $21,000 average annual income of families that qualify for the scholarships.
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