Local community college administrators say sign up early for MAP - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Local community college administrators say sign up early for MAP grants or miss out

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At Highland Community College, monetary award program, or MAP, grants help take care of tuition and fees for students. But, Illinois is short on money and that means less available for MAP. Highland school administrators say act quickly for the most financial assistance.

This grant fund is so depleted, state lawmakers even created a MAP Eligibility Task Force to investigate problems with the program.

"The state, as with everything else, has fewer and fewer resources. They make choices and an easy way to do something like this if there's less money, shorten the application period." -says HCC President Joe Kanosky.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, deadlines are earlier, but non-traditional or first-time students unfamiliar with the program are applying for school and financial assistance later.

"They don't even have an opportunity for the money that would help them with tuition and fees." -says Kanosky.

That's not the only problem. There's also not as much money to give. According to school administrators, Highland's MAP grant funding has dropped more than $100,000 in the last five years. This affected more than 100 students in the fall 2012 semester. They didn't receive any help from MAP, even though they qualified. Some students are now adjusting schedules to deal with less financial help.

"Many of them are picking up more hours working. It's not that they necessarily, at this point, decided not to come to college because of map, but they had to work more to pay for the expenses." -says HCC Student Services Associate Vice President Liz Gerber.

HCC administrators recommend high school students turn in FAFSA applications, not in a few months, but in a few days, by February 14th. The MAP Eligibility Task Force has suggested extended deadlines for non-traditional or first-generation college students.

For more information on applying for financial aid at Highland Community College, click here.

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