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February 14, 2002

More Students Will Receive State Aid

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan announced today that he will make additional grant award announcements through the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) to Illinois college students seeking financial assistance for the 2001-2002 academic year. An estimated 7,300 financially needy undergraduate students are expected to benefit from this action.

Last October, the Commission suspended award announcements to avoid overcommitting the agency’s need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP). The total dollars appropriated to the program for this academic year were committed to students sooner than anticipated, largely due to the economic downturn.

“The benefits of an investment like MAP grants extend beyond the students. The State benefits as well, both in terms of workforce preparedness and quality of life,” Governor Ryan said. “Many of the students who receive MAP grants are adult students who want to upgrade their skills and consequently, their employability.”

MAP grants, which do not have to be repaid, apply to tuition and fees and are awarded to Illinois residents demonstrating financial need and attending approved Illinois colleges and universities. This year alone, approximately 140,000 students will receive MAP grants totaling $375 million.

ISAC Executive Director Larry Matejka heralded the Governor’s action. “With the strong support of Governor Ryan and the General Assembly, thousands of Illinois students who otherwise might not have been able to afford it are being given a chance to pursue the postsecondary education and/or training of their choice.”

Of the 7,300 additional students who are now eligible to receive MAP grants, almost 60 percent are adult students, most of whom are attending community colleges. Nearly 70 percent of those expected to receive awards are women. Their average taxable family income is less than $17,300, and roughly half of them have been determined as having no financial resources to pay for college.

Illinois’ MAP program is the second largest program of its kind in the nation, and Illinois was recently recognized by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education as the top-performing state in the country in helping financially needy students afford a postsecondary education.

For the past three years, ISAC has not suspended MAP award announcements. This year, however, applications dated October 27, 2001 or after were placed in suspension. Following the suspension, the Commission monitored enrollment and payout trends throughout the first term. Because a number of students who were eligible for MAP grants chose not to attend college or accept the grant, the agency determined that 7,300 additional grants could be awarded with the existing funds.

Students seeking to enroll in postsecondary education for the 2002-2003 academic year are encouraged to apply for financial assistance now. Information regarding financial aid and the application process is available at www.isac-online.org or by calling ISAC toll-free at 800-899-ISAC (4722).

ISAC acts as the State’s centralized provider of information and financial assistance aimed at helping students and families access postsecondary education and/or training. Each year, the Commission awards an estimated $400 million in scholarship and grant aid to nearly 185,000 qualified students, and also provides an additional $600 million to borrowers through its student loan programs. The agency offers credit-based alternative loans, a 529 prepaid tuition program known as College Illinois!, and a broad array of outreach and informational services to ensure that families have access to the information they need to pay for a college education. More information is available by calling toll-free 800-899-ISAC (4722) or visiting the agency’s website.


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