Students who fail to remain in good academic standing at their college could see a reduction in the state’s Monetary Award Program Grant (MAP) under a measure passed Wednesday in the House Higher Education Committee.
Under the measure sponsored by state Rep. Renee Kosel (R-Mokena), students who withdraw from or fail to complete a course that is funded with a MAP Grant could see a decrease in funding or they might be forced to repay the equal amount to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
“We should give MAP Grants to as many qualified students as we possibly can,” Kosel said “We run out of MAP Grants before we run out of qualified students to give them to.”
In the past, the grant which about 140,973 students received this academic year to attend 134 higher education institutions across Illinois has been doled out based on financial need instead of completion or academic standards, Kosel said.
She said requiring students to complete a course for which they had received MAP funding would ensure the state aid goes to students who are qualified and take their education seriously.
“I will tell you very frankly when my kids went to college, if they didn’t make the grades, they paid the bill,” Kosel said.
The amount of funding a student could lose for flunking a course hasn’t been determined, Kosel said. However, reductions would be based on the amount MAP funding a student receives, she said.
MAP Grant recipients can receive up to $4,968 per academic year, according to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
One student leader applauds the bill.
“It’s smart and holds people accountable,” said Mitchell Gruick, the student trustee at Eastern Illinois University. “It’s not fair for someone to take a course two or three times, when that money could be spent on students who want to be there and will take their education seriously.”
Though proponents of the measure say it would hold students accountable, opponents say the measure could hurt those who need financial help the most.
Danielle Leibowitz, the student trustee at the University of Illinois Chicago, said she understands the logic that more merit-based funding would be an incentive for students to perform better, but she said reducing funding to a student wouldn’t be appropriate.
“I’m against cutting funding,” Leibowitz said “It isn’t fair. Things come up where students have to withdraw and may not perform to the best of their ability and they shouldn’t feel additional penalties.”
Today, aid is leaning more toward merit-based instead of need based, which Leibowitz said is problematic.
In 2004, ISAC launched a seven-year study to look at the behaviors, attitudes, graduation rates and student progress of 8,000 students. In their findings, the commission discovered that many students encountered issues, making it difficult to stay in school.
About 53 percent reported that the cost of college is too high, 35 percent said family issues, and 24 percent said employment opportunities made it difficult to complete school.
HB4463 would require ISAC to determine standards for awarding MAP grants and renewals based on financial need and academic qualifications.
If the legislation is passed, it would affect students immediately.