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State may cut 50 percent of student grants

Illinois’ severe budget crisis is about to spread to quads across the state.
Nearly 148,000 students in Illinois who receive the state’s need-based MAP grant are facing the very real possibility of losing funding for the second semester of this year.
More than 1,400 of those are Bradley students.
In July, the state legislature attempted to put together a budget less draconian than the one originally presented by Gov. Pat Quinn. The legislatorys were eventually able to pass a budget to cover half the year. The second half has been left up in the air.
So the passed budget allotted only enough money to fund MAP grants for half the academic year, which could potentially leave those students out in the cold come January.
At Bradley, about a quarter of the student body receives the grants, which average $4,733 a year. The assistance is based on a family’s need, which is judged by FAFSA forms filled out each spring.
Seventy percent of MAP recipients come from families with incomes of less than $60,000. Other recipients come from families with significantly higher incomes, though they are awarded the grants based on other needs, such as having multiple children in college at the same time.
“This is an almost insurmountable challenge for these families,” said Dave Pardieck, financial assistance director. “The questions is, now what?”
In an attempt to answer that question, the university is hosting a series of meetings at 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday in Neumiller Lecture Hall. At the meetings,            administrators will inform affected students of what this means to them and their families, as well as how they can help by writing their representatives in Springfield.
In addition to the letter writing campaign, Bradley will offer transportation for students wishing to participate in a rally on Oct. 15 in the state capitol. More details on that trip will be available in a few weeks.
In the meantime, many families will be left with a higher tuition bill than they expected if legislators can’t come to an agreement on the issue when they reconvene in mid-October.
“We’ll work with each student individually to try and figure out a way to [bridge the gap],” Pardieck said. “The university has limited resources, obviously. For us to commit more to this means other areas will miss out. Our options are very limited.”
The total amount Bradley students alone is looking at losing is $3.4 million for next semester, which is a chunk of change too big to do without, said Shelley Epstein, associate vice president for communication.
The administration is not pushing any sort of plan B, the only option, they say, is for the grants to be funded.
Bradley is not alone in this movement, either. Private, public and community colleges and universities across the state have signed on to help persuade the government to fund the program.
“If the state does not fulfill its obligation, its promise for this year … I think students in the future will have trouble trusting the state [for financial aide assistance],” Epstein said. “That … will limit the number of students looking to come to college, which is very unfortunate for every university, for our state and for our society.”
Anyone unsure whether or not they are awarded a MAP grant should look at their financial assistance award letter. The MAP grant will be labeled ISAC MAP Grant. Bradley Grants are not the same as MAP grants.