University News

WIU Professor Appointed to State Task Force

August 2, 2012

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Professor Steven Rock, of the Western Illinois University Department of Economics and Decision Sciences, has been appointed to a 17-member task force that will review the operation of Illinois' Monetary Award Program (MAP).

Rock's appointment was made recently by the executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.
The need-based MAP Program, created in 1967, is designed to help low- and middle-income Illinois residents attend the colleges of their choice within the state. Last year the program provided assistance to more than 140,000 students.

While MAP is one of the largest and most successful need-based, student financial aid programs in the country, there were 140,000 students who were unable to receive help because limited funding is available. Applications are taken on a first come, first serve basis.

Because it does not appear additional state funding will be available, at least in the immediate future, the task force is being asked to look at options for improving the outcomes of students receiving MAP awards and the efficiency of the program. Any potential changes would not be implemented until fiscal year 2015.

"Higher education is an investment in human capital that has a substantial rate of return to both the individual and the state, financially and socially," said Rock. "The first best solution would be to increase overall MAP funding, the number of awards, and the grant amount."

Rock said that as recently as fiscal year 2001, all students who were eligible for MAP were accommodated, and the grant completely covered tuition and fees at community colleges and public universities. Now, the grant is only sufficient to cover the tuition at community colleges.

"Many promising students do not pursue or complete higher education as a result of the financial barriers and those that do often amass large amounts of debt," Rock said.

Illinois has a goal of having 60 percent of its working adults achieve higher education credentials by the year 2025. Rock noted that "given the current funding constraints, it will be that much harder to achieve the goal."

The MAP Task Force was established by the Illinois General Assembly under Senate Joint Resolution 69. The Task Force is scheduled to meet monthly around the state, and to deliver its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by Jan. 1.

The Task Force will hold public meetings and seek input from students and additional stakeholders.

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