Illinois MAP grants in jeopardy due to state budget dilemma

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KFVS/AP) - Illinois' budget deadlock will soon effect even more people.

State grants meant to help hundreds of thousands of Illinois college students in need, has been halted.

Students who qualify for the Illinois Monetary Award Program, also known as the MAP grants, could be left with a bill if state legislators don't reach a decision soon.

Senate Democrats are pushing to fund grants for Illinois college students even though the state doesn't have a budget in place.

The agency that administers the grants can't disperse money because Illinois lawmakers haven't been able to agree on a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Administrators with SIU Carbondale say this issue could really hit home.

"About a third of our undergraduate students have received map grants typically, so about 4,000 students for a total of about 14 million a year," Communications officer, Rae Goldsmith said.

14 million dollars…and that's just for students at SIU Carbondale.

In all, $373 million and more than 120,000 students receive MAP grants in the state, according to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

Students like Catherine York fear losing it.

"I'm worried," York said. "I don't know if I can afford school now, because the MAP grant helps me out a lot."

Spokesperson for SIU Carbondale, Rae Goldsmith said students' accounts have been credited but the university has not.

"We will go ahead and award students their MAP grants now, with the strong hope that the state realizes that this is an important investment and its citizens and will continue to fund it," Goldsmith said.

That could put York, now a senior, in a tight situation if the state doesn't fund the program.

"I don't want to have to take out a personal loan, but that's what it's looking like," York said. "I don't want to owe the school either. I don't want to drop my courses. This is my senior year, I'm about to be done."

Goldsmith is hopeful legislators recognize the importance of the program.

"It is no money that the university can afford to carry or back fill because it is $14 million," Goldsmith said. "So if the state doesn't eventually fund this, we may be having to go back to students for the balance."

In the meantime, students eagerly await an official state budget, hopeful legislators continue to fund MAP grants.

"I'm disappointed …worried…I know everything will work out," York said.

Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston says he'll seek initial approval Wednesday for a plan to authorize spending about $373 million for the Monetary Award Program.

He says the $373 million is the same funding level recommended by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The bill is SB2043.

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Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.