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MAP Grant reductions leave students with less aid

In this archive photo from Oct. 28, 2009, more than 100 Dominican students joined protestors in Springfield to rally against the proposed cut of MAP Grants. On March 3, a group of students will return to oppose the latest reductions. Credit: Danielle Nicholson.

By: Kaitlin Kimont, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Seven weeks into the semester students were notified that all spring 2011 Monetary Award Program grants were being reduced by 5 percent.

In mid-January, Dominican was notified by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission of the change in government aid.

On Feb. 17, the Financial Aid Department sent all MAP grant recipients a letter stating the changes in their spring financial aid awards.

The university determined that, through a donation made to Dominican, they would be able to cover half of the students’ funding loss. The Financial Aid Office revised 836 financial aid rewards and paid out $49,408, partially covering the reduced MAP funding.

The letter stated, “While it is unfortunate that the state has chosen to take this action, we are pleased to inform you that through the generosity of a donor you are being awarded a Goldenberg Foundation Grant which is equal to 50 percent of your lost MAP funding for the spring term.”

“As the State of Illinois faces a serious budget deficit, the ISAC has experienced a 45 percent increase in applications for the Illinois MAP grant for the 2010-2011 academic year,” the letter further explains.

The maximum MAP grant award for a 15-credit-hour student would be $2,484. The 5 percent deducted from that amount equates to $124 per student award.

After the 50 percent coverage from the institutional dollars, students had to make up the remaining $62.

“This was a surprise,” Director of Financial Aid Marie von Ebers said.  “No one was expecting it.”

However, the position of MAP funding for the 2011-2012 academic year is unknown at this moment.

“We are fortunate to be in a position to assist you at this time but cannot guarantee that future shortfalls in the state and/or federal funding can be replaced with institutional dollars,” the letter stated.

Financial aid is monitoring the situation closely. “When we know, [students] will know. We will let people know as soon as we can so they can plan,” von Ebers said.

ISAC is already processing the 2011-2012 FAFSAs and usually lets the university know between March and April when the suspense date will be.

“We have to make sure MAP stays afloat next year. The budget realities of this credit-card government mean that everything will come due at some point, and MAP is no different,” Political Science professor David Dolence said.

Dolence will be traveling to Springfield March 3 with a group of students lobbying for MAP grant security.

Typically about 10 to 15 students attend the annual lobby day.

“It’s political and it matters what taxpayers care about,” Assistant Director of Financial Aid Debbie Madison said.

Though the lobby day may not persuade the senators and representatives to vote in favor of increasing MAP grant funding, it makes it more difficult for them to vote against it.

“I believe a college education should be earned through hard work and intellectual ability formed from one’s academic vigor,” Student Government Association President Tim Lazicki said. “The students lobbying on our behalf are reminding our state legislature that the pursuit of a college education should not be limited to only those who can afford it.”

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