University offers adjustment to MAP grant award letters

By Luis Velazquez, Staff Writer

The Office of Student Financial Aid provides assistance for eligible University students through the Monetary Award Program grant, a resource for Illinois residents pursuing higher education. It is free government support to students who are attending any university in Illinois and need financial support when submitting their Free Application For Student Aid.

Although there have not been any recent changes to the MAP grant, the University offers an adjustment to students’ award letters if the students are registered under 15 credit hours. For instance, if a student is taking 12 credit hours, the University covers the difference as to what that student would have received with the full federal grant.

Michelle Trame, director of the OSFA, explained the MAP grants are credited to students’ university accounts when they are enrolled in the school and meet all other eligibility requirements. It is required both student and parent are Illinois residents. Another requirement states the grant is awarded only to students who have an estimated family contribution of less than $9,000 reported in the student’s FAFSA.

“For students enrolled between 12-14 hours, prorated MAP awards are replaced with university grant funds,” Trame said in an email.

Some students are unaware that OSFA provides this type of support.

Alfredo Zavala, junior in Engineering, went to the financial aid office and was surprised about the MAP grant, in regards to the student’s financial aid award letter.

“The financial aid counselor noticed I had the MAP grant but not the full grant. She then told me not to worry even if I am taking below 15 credit hours since the University is going to make it up,” Zavala said. “Technically, I am registered with 13 credit hours, but I saw my financial aid letter and it said there was a ‘University adjustment.’”

Zavala said this information should be more publicized to students and the University should be more transparent with what the financial aid office provides.

“Counselors, including advisors, should not hold information when students are selecting their courses for the upcoming semester,” Zavala said.

Fatima Castillo, junior in LAS, was also not aware of this action provided by the financial aid office. However, Castillo is impressed with the support from the University toward individuals who need financial support the most.

“At the end of the day, students who need the MAP grant get the full MAP grant,” Castillo said. “It is not a situation where people will riot or get angry if they are receiving their financial aid in full.”

Zavala said he is glad about this opportunity. From his perspective, there is a stigma of taking 15 credit hours each semester to receive the full MAP grant. However, this opportunity will help ease students’ stress by not overpacking their class schedule.

“Don’t use this as an excuse to do the bare minimum,” Zavala said. “I would say if you think or want to push yourself to take whatever credit hours you want, you should still do it, but don’t be afraid to do under 15 credit hours because of the stigma that is attached to it.”

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