With an increase in funding for the Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP), more students are able to receive money to help cover the costs of tuition.
The Illinois MAP Grant is a need-based grant that’s designed to financially aid families who aren’t able to support the cost of college.
“It’s an Illinois-based program and it’s just Illinois students so it doesn’t apply to SIU Edwardsville students coming from another state,” SIU President Dan Mahony said. “It only applies to people from Illinois.”
Mesha Garner, director of student financial aid, said there are more than 2,800 SIUE students who benefit from the Illinois MAP Grant.
“You would need to complete the FAFSA in order to determine eligibility,” Garner said. “Not all students are eligible for the Illinois MAP Grant; however, many are if they’re in financial need.”
Garner said the grant can benefit students by allowing them to use it to pay for other expenses.
“The Illinois MAP Grant is tuition and fee targeted so that means it goes directly towards your tuition and fees, while some of the students' other financial aid options can extend beyond that,” Garner said. “It creates more space for your other financial aid to pay for other things.”
Mahony said many higher education institutions have been requesting an increase in the maximum amount awarded for the Illinois MAP Grant because it would result in more money for students to use on tuition and fewer students getting turned down for the grant.
“In the past, sometimes up to 50,000 students who were eligible didn’t get the grants because the money ran out,” Mahony said. “By increasing the amount available for the grants, not only are we able to increase the amount per student, but also reduce the amount of students who are eligible and aren’t able to receive the grants.”
Mahony said more than half of the students who use the Illinois MAP Grant are first-time college students, which would cause them to be more affected by lack of funding.
“Sometimes for first-generation college students, sometimes they’re later to apply or later to fill out the FAFSA, and therefore they’re not eligible or don’t receive the MAP funding even if they have that financial need,” Mahony said.
Garner said the state of Illinois decided to increase the award amount to see more students eligible for the Illinois MAP Grant.
Meanwhile, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has stated that this year every student who applies will receive a MAP grant, leaving no one on the waitlist for the first time in 20 years.
“The maximum award last year that a student could get before the spring addition was only $5,496, but now it’s been increased by $1,700 and now totals $7,200,” Garner said. “So, students get $7,200 if they are eligible for the maximum award of the Illinois MAP Grant.”
Mahony said that everyone should at least fill out a FAFSA because even if someone comes from a high-income family, they can still be eligible for federal loans.
“There are a lot of students who apply for financial aid,” Garner said. “However, there are more students out there who could benefit that haven’t taken advantage of what’s available for them.”
Garner said she encourages all students to apply for financial aid as early as possible. FAFSAs can be filed beginning Oct. 1.
"We’re in a different time right now where things are happening where increases are available,” Garner said. “If students don’t want to miss out on the money that’s available to them they should definitely apply early, fill out their documents.”
For more information, visit the Student Financial Aid website.