Financial aid office moves to assist in-debt MAP students

Since Wheaton College does not allow students to register for classes if their balance has a debt of more than $1,000, the 108 students affected by the loss of the state government funded Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grant have worked with the Financial Aid Office to lower their balances and register for classes. The total shortfall caused by the loss of the MAP Grant was $246,000.

Last-minute donations allowed the Financial Aid Office to award the MAP Grant Replacement Scholarship, a scholarship of a combined $41,000, to 31 students rather than the original number of 29 that The Record reported last week. Of the students who did not receive the Replacement Grant, 10 had debts in their account balances between $1,000 and $2,360.

If these students had received the MAP Grant, their balances would have been less than $1,000. Therefore, the Financial Aid Office, in collaboration with the Office of the Registrar, has allowed those students to register for fall classes. However, if those students do not lower their balance to a figure below $1,000 by July 1, Wheaton will cancel their course registrations.

The 10 students who had balances above $2,360 would not have been able to register even with the MAP Grant. The Financial Aid Office plans to work with them to find financial solutions through avenues like applying for parent PLUS loans or taking the full measure of their loan eligibility.

A sophomore affected by the loss of the MAP Grant, who wished to remain anonymous, asked his fellow students to “be aware that students and their families might be struggling financially and support each other.”

In accordance with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) MAP rules, the Financial Aid Office notified incoming freshmen and continuing students of their eligibility for MAP Grants but also informed them of the lack of funding.

After the Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, vetoed the bill which would have provided funding to the MAP Grant on Feb. 19, the state government reached an impasse on the issue. Though the Financial Aid Office hopes the MAP Grant will become available in the future, they do not know when or if it will happen.

Karen Belling, director of the Financial Aid Office, asked students, particularly students from Illinois, to continue to advocate for MAP Grant funding. She explained that though the administration has written letters to the state government, “student’s personal appeals make it real for (our representatives)” in ways administration’s statistics cannot.

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