Financial aid stressed with MAP in jeopardy

IVCC financial aid advisers are encouraging students to apply for federal financial aid and scholarships since the state’s budget impasse has made state aid for students doubtful for the upcoming school year.

“I would encourage all students to work closely with our terrific staff in our Financial Aid Department in order to complete the process of applying for financial assistance,” says IVCC President Corcoran.

The need for federal aid is more prominent since Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget does not include funds for the state’s Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) grant for next school year, and he has vetoed recent bills that would have funded MAP for the current school year.

IVCC was one of the few colleges in the state that covered MAP for this year, hoping the state would eventually pay the college back. IVCC covered the funds, a result from the budget stalemate in Springfield, for both the fall and spring semesters of the 2015-16 school year, costing the school over $500,000.

According to Cheryl Roelfsema, IVCC’s vice president for business services and finance, there are about 500 students at IVCC who rely on MAP grants for the school year. Depending on the credit hours a student is enrolled in, coverage from the MAP grants range from $342 to $1,750, per semester.

Besides student aid, the state budget impasse also impacts the college in other ways.

“IVCC has not received any of the $3.2 million that was budgeted for state revenues for fiscal year 2016,” says Roelfsema. “The college has used cash reserves to cover these expenditures and we are still hopeful the state legislature will make these appropriations or at least appropriate a percentage of the budgeted monies.”

While college officials hope that Rauner and the legislature agree on reimbursing higher education funds, there still is doubt that the Illinois government will agree on a budget within the fiscal year.

“I am not sure at this point that we are expecting to receive [MAP] funds, which means it’s almost like institutional aid at this point, because IVCC had funds that covered the MAP grants that had already been awarded to students,” says IVCC financial aid advisor Lorri Foockle.

As IVCC begins to financially plan for the 2017 year, departments are expected to submit their requests to the Budget Council, a group consisting of budget managers from across the College.

“Once all the budget requests are compiled and assumptions are made for revenues, each request is prioritized,” says Roeflsema.

According to Corcoran, board members have already met with the Board’s Audit/Finance Committee to incorporate new “basic assumptions” for the upcoming fiscal year.

“It will be May or June before we’re ready to finalize details of the tentative budget for the fiscal year 2017,” states Corcoran. “It’s too early to make a statement with complete certainty on this matter just yet.”

In the event that MAP grants are not available, students should apply for financial aid and look for other resources available.
IVCC financial aid advisers still push for students to apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which was available on Jan. 1.

The FAFSA not only considers students for state grants, but is also evaluated to determine federal funds given out for Pell grants, student loans and student work study. The FAFSA is the base of almost all financial aid.

The FAFSA looks at many different factors to award financial aid, including marital status, family size, number of college-enrolled students living in the household and income. A full view of what the FAFSA takes into consideration is made available by the Expected Family Contribution formula, found at ifap.ed.gov.

Once students begin their FAFSA application, they can go in at any time to update their information. The complete FAFSA application can be found at FAFSA.gov.

“At this point it is too early to make any decisions on funding MAP [grants] for fall 2016,” says Roelfsema. “We will wait to hear what the state is planning first.”

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