- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Colleges and universities are again deciding whether to front grant money to low-income students who are supposed to be receiving state aid, as Illinois’ state budget remains uncertain.

A survey recently released by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission suggests some schools that covered grants in the fall aren’t guaranteeing to this spring, The Southern Illinoisan newspaper (https://bit.ly/2hKvbkn ) reported. The commission administers the grants through the Monetary Award Program, or MAP.

“It is important to note that institutions that are crediting student accounts for MAP or listing the award as pending are doing so with the expectation that they will receive payment for MAP from the state,” the commission said.

Of the 96 colleges and universities that responded to the survey, 53 percent said they’d guarantee money for the spring semester, down from 60 percent in the fall. More than 35 schools eligible to receive the grants didn’t respond to the survey.

And only two-thirds of the public universities that covered grants in the fall are committed to covering them in the spring, according to the survey.

Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois universities are among the schools that have made the guarantee, school officials said.

Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington will be among the schools to change their policy. Spokeswoman Ann Aubry said that while the university covered the grants for all eligible students in the fall, it will do so only on a case-by-case basis in the spring.

“We are hopeful the state budget will be resolved, and will lobby on our students’ behalf with our local legislators,” Aubry wrote in an emailed statement.

Most of the universities covering the grants said they would require students to repay them if the state doesn’t come through with the money or reduces the funding level for the program.

State lawmakers included money to finish paying off last year’s grants in a stopgap spending plan to fund state operations through Dec. 31. No money was included for the current year.

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com


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