State Sen. Chapin Rose introduces bills to change MAP grant rules

State Sen. Chapin Rose introduces bills to change MAP grant rules

By Josh Winters

In an effort to increase the efficiency of Monetary Award Program grants, State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-51, introduced four bills to the General Assembly to alter the program’s existing eligibility and payment requirements.

“We need to do more with less,” Rose said.

One of Rose’s bills, SB 1591, would prohibit students of for-profit universities from receiving MAP grants. By passing the bill, Rose hopes to steer students away from these institutions, which have come under fire for low-quality education and training programs, as well as inflating post-graduate job placement numbers to mislead new recruits.

“The reality is in years past, the state of Illinois has spent anywhere between $17 to $25 million on for-profit university MAP grants,” Rose said. “That’s a kid at the U of I that didn’t get a MAP grant.”

During the 2013-2014 academic year, nearly 6,700 University students received a MAP grant with an average value of $4,147.28. The total amount awarded in map grants reached $27,774,397, according to Michelle Trame, senior associate director of the Office of Student Financial Aid.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which awards MAP grants, announced in February the suspension of the grant to students whose applications were received on or after Feb. 22, the earliest deadline in the commission’s history according to the University’s student financial aid website.

The suspension was in response to the state’s ongoing budgetary crisis and higher level of early applications.

“Demand far exceeds available funds for certain state grants such as the Illinois Monetary Award Program, as well as for some institutional aid,” said Eric Zarnikow, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission in a statement.

Rose said the bill has received bipartisan support, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin supports the measure. However, Rose also said the for-profit college industry will likely fight the bill in the legislature, even though its reputation has taken a hit in recent years.

“They go out and hire a bunch of lobbyists to lobby against the bill, but I think we are in a different world now,” Rose said.

By ceasing to award MAP grants to the students of for-profit colleges, Rose said the state could save roughly 5 percent of its MAP budget and potentially steer students away from the organizations.

Another piece of Rose’s MAP legislative package, SB 1592, would bar students who failed out of their current University from receiving any MAP funding for a calendar year.

Rose also introduced SB 1711, which would require MAP recipients to graduate within the “normal time” their degree requires, typically within four years. Rose said he believes Illinois taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for students to stay in college for an unnecessary amount of time.

“If you don’t get your work done on time, well, that’s not our fault,” Rose said. “It’s time to give someone else a chance who would get their work done on time.”

Of the bills introduced by Rose, SB 1712 may face more hurdles in the General Assembly than Rose’s other MAP proposals. If passed, this bill would require Illinois’ MAP recipients to remain in the state for at least five consecutive years following graduation. If they choose to leave Illinois, the MAP grant money they received would be converted into student loan debt to be paid back with 5 percent interest.

The bill, Rose said, was developed in tandem with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office. While stopping in Champaign on his State of the State preview tour, Rauner emphasized the need to retain a greater number of Illinois’ workforce, which he said has been leaving Illinois at higher rates than its neighboring states.

Rose said this law would only apply to future MAP recipients — students who currently receive the need-based grant money would not be affected.

Rose’s MAP bills must make it through the General Assembly before they go into effect, but they have the potential to affect thousands of University students who benefit from the grant.

[email protected]

@jw_daily_illini