Among the students most in peril as the state operates without a budget are those who receive state dollars to help pay for their college education.
The Monetary Assistance Program, known as MAP grants, provide up to $4,720 to the state’s neediest students who can use the funds to go to any public or private school. The money is pledged to students prior to the school year, but it’s only sent to schools if it’s appropriated by the legislature and approved by the governor.
The MAP program provided about $373 million in scholarships to low-income students last year.
No state budget means no MAP funding has been released in the 2015-16 school year. Most community colleges and four-year universities have covered the cost of the scholarships this academic year. But with no assurances from Springfield that money will be restored, public and private colleges and universities must decide if they will bankroll the scholarships if the budget impasse continues into the fall.
Some schools have pledged to continue covering the grants next year, including Governors State University, DePaul University, Monmouth College and Concordia University Chicago.
"The sad part of this entire story statewide is that the state made the promise of funding to students and these are the students that need the funding the most," said Trent Gilbert, vice president for enrollment at Monmouth College, where about 550 students get MAP grants.
For the current year, Concordia University has covered $2.3 million in MAP funding for more than 500 students, and will continue to do so next fall.
Governors State President Elaine Maimon said were it not for financial support, some of her students may not pursue higher education at all. The school put up about $2.8 million to replace lost MAP grants for 1,941 students in the fall and spring semesters.
"We’re doing that because we don’t want to lose those students to nowhere," Maimon said.
But some schools that credited student accounts for the scholarships this year, including the University of Illinois campuses and Northern Illinois University, have said students may end up owing their institution if the state does not fund MAP this fall.
U. of I. was expecting to receive $60 million in MAP dollars for the school year. Spokesman Thomas Hardy said administrators will decide after May 1 how the school will reconcile the lost MAP funds from the spring term. No decision has been made for the 2016-17 school year.
The Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago last week told students that they would have to repay MAP grants for the fall semester. The university did not foot the bill for the spring semester, instead requiring students to find another way to make up that funding. It also does not plan to cover the costs next academic year if there’s no budget.
"It is tough for any institution that has a large low-income population to accept that they will write off that money," said David Baker, IIT’s vice president of external affairs. "The state of Illinois promised this to our students, as a key policy. To have it disrupted like this is hard to imagine."
About 730 IIT students were supposed to receive MAP grants this year totaling about $3.5 million, and the university has said that students will get the money back if the grants are included whenever a budget is passed.
The Tribune’s Dawn Rhodes contributed.