Research and Reports
Monetary Award Program Evaluation - (2/13, PDF format, 574 KB)
The Monetary Award Program (MAP), administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), assists with tuition and fee costs for nearly 160,000 financially needy Illinois undergraduates annually. The 2013 biennial program evaluation provides some background and context for MAP and highlights its importance to Illinois' long term educational goals.
Monetary Award Program Evaluation - (2/11, PDF format, 678 KB)
The Monetary Award Program (MAP), administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), assists with tuition and fee costs for more than 140,000 financially needy Illinois undergraduates annually. The 2011 biennial program evaluation provides some background and context for MAP and highlights its importance to Illinois' long term educational goals.
Changes in Affordability of a College Education for Dependent Students in Illinois, FY1997 - FY2007 - (November 16, 2007 Commission meeting agenda item)
Discussion of FY2009 Grant Program Budget Issues (November 16th Commission meeting agenda item)
Changes In Affordability Of A College Education For Illinois Community College And Public University Students - (4/08, PDF format, 290KB)
It is no secret that college has become less affordable. What is not clear is how much less affordable college has become and how students from different socioeconomic levels are affected. This report attempts to address these issues by quantifying changes in affordability between FY1997, FY2002, and FY2007 for students receiving need-based financial aid at community colleges and public universities in Illinois. Affordability levels were determined by comparing college costs and available resources in each of the three years. Average attendance cost estimates were compiled for community college and public university students. Resources to help pay for college were calculated for Illinois families and students using the average income for each income quintile. These resources included eligibility for need-based federal Pell and Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant aid as well as a contribution from family and student income. Changes in affordability were then defined by changes over time in the difference between costs and resources. If this difference, known as “remaining need,” increased over time, college was considered to be less affordable.
In 2007, ISAC celebrated 50 years of providing access to higher education for Illinois families. To chronicle the agency's activities and achievements during the year, a publication entitled, "A Year in Review" was compiled and made available to higher education partners, community and professional organizations, state and federal legislators and others.
Fifth-Year MAP-Eligible Students - (3/03, PDF format, 236KB)
Due to state budgetary constraints resulting in a 10 percent appropriation reduction to the Monetary Award Program (MAP), several changes were made to the FY2003 MAP start-up formula used to compute awards. These changes included the complete elimination of awards for students who had already received MAP payments for the equivalent of four years of full-time study ("fifth-year students"). Despite the loss of MAP money, most of the fifth-year students (85 percent) returned to school, although some (20 percent) had to reduce the number of hours taken. To compensate for the lack of grant aid, recipients are working more hours and/or borrowing more money. Both the quality and timing of their degree and the future quality of life for these students, may be adversely affected by the loss of their MAP grant.
Are Cost Barriers Keeping Qualified Students from College? - (3/03, PDF format 326 KB)
The notion of raising academic standards to enhance college access, particularly for low-income students, has gained both statewide and national momentum. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) has tracked and evaluated low-income students closely for years through its administration of Illinois' Monetary Award Program (MAP) program. While preparation is undeniably important for college admission and retention, the lower college attendance rates of low-income students (when compared to students from more affluent families) historically have had a strong income component. These students have been surveyed many times and a constant refrain is that without the MAP grant, which can cover up to 100 percent of college tuition and fees, they could not have attended college. Yet not all MAP-eligible students claim their awards and not all low-income students even apply for the grant. It is suspected that even with the financial aid offered in Illinois, through a grant program very generous by state standards, there are students who are college-ready yet do not undertake post-secondary education for financial or other reasons.
Setting Financial Aid Priorities: A Survey of Financial Aid Administrators - (3/03, PDF format 190 KB)
As one component of developing policies and information to be supplied to policy makers and elected representatives, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) completed a survey of Illinois financial aid administrators. The survey focused on federal priorities regarding needs analysis, student loans, and loan policy. Administrators felt one of the most important changes to make to needs analysis would be to lower the age for automatic independent status. Many administrators felt freshman and sophomore loan limits should be raised by at least $1,000. The survey results will be one of the ways in which ISAC ensures Illinois concerns are included in the 2003-04 Reauthorization process.
Student financial aid can be used as a tool to encourage interested participants to pursue a particular field of study or to reduce the educational cost burden incurred by students in particular fields. This type of aid targeting is employed by the federal government and a number of states, including Illinois, to increase the supply of available preprimary, primary, and secondary school teachers. A survey of recipients of targeted teacher assistance in Illinois suggests such aid may have only limited effect in recruiting students who were not already considering becoming teachers into the field, but that it may have a positive impact in reducing the educational debt of teaching graduates.
College Illinois!® Purchaser and Non-Purchaser Study - (7/02, PDF format, 725KB)
One way many families are now choosing to pay for college is through a prepaid tuition program such as ISAC's College Illinois!® program, a qualified 529 plan offering prepaid tuition contracts. This study examines some of the characteristics of College Illinois!® prepaid tuition contract purchasers and those who were interested, but did not purchase a contract. The most popular College Illinois!® contract was a lump-sum purchase of a full, four-year public university education. A little more than one-quarter of the contracts were purchased for beneficiaries currently of preschool age, indicating purchasers are making long term plans. A slightly higher percentage of contracts sold, however, were for beneficiaries currently in junior high or higher, suggesting prepaid tuition plans may also be used as a shorter term financing option.
Increasing College Access or Just Increasing Debt? - (7/02, PDF format, 302KB)
A look at paying for college with student loans. For students without substantial resources, grant aid may not currently cover the cost of some educational options. For middle-income students with only limited resources, grant aid may not even be available. Student loans can play an important role in increasing access and putting college financially within reach. Current regulations limit the amount students may borrow through federal programs and there has been ongoing discussion on the national level regarding whether students should be permitted to borrow more. Although some students could afford to pay back greater debt and increasing student loan limits may be a viable option for them, other students could face excessive debt burden and repayment difficulties upon graduation if loan limits were increased.
Encouraging College Diversity Through the Use Of MAP Grants - (9/01, PDF format, 286KB)
In general, minority students often have lower incomes and more barriers to college attendance than non-minority students. Despite these barriers, Illinois postsecondary education is enrolling significant numbers of minority students. An important reason for Illinois’ diverse college environment is the MAP grant. About 40 percent of all MAP awards go to minority students, particularly at four-year public and private institutions. African-American and Hispanic students are especially helped by MAP grants: 44 percent of all African-American students and 35 percent of Hispanic students received MAP grants in FY2000.
Summer Financial Assistance: Helping Illinois Students Attend Summer School by Awarding Financial Aid - (8/01, PDF format, 171KB)
Survey data suggest students take classes in the summer in order to complete a program of study and graduate on time, or because of a schedule conflict in the traditional academic year, and do not use summer enrollment periods primarily to retake course work. Survey data indicate the availability of student financial aid is an important or deciding factor for students making a summer enrollment decision. Summer aid may be a method by which the state can support efforts to keep working students enrolled and increase degree completion.
Initiative to Aid Illinois Adult Learners - (8/01, PDF format, 372KB)
About 36 percent of Illinois college students are "adult learners," meaning students over 24 years of age. Many of these students work full-time and attend college part-time, a substantial number are low-income, and some are supporting families. A pilot program was designed and implemented by ISAC to provide data to evaluate the efficacy of extending MAP grant eligibility to these students. An analysis of the statistical and survey data generated by the pilot indicates that students enrolling for fewer than six hours per semester have socio-economic characteristics and financial need that are very similar to those students who enroll for more hours.
Trends in the Monetary Award Program FY1991 to FY2000 - (6/01, PDF format, 648KB)
The Monetary Award Program (MAP) helps remove financial barriers preventing Illinois residents from pursuing higher education by providing tuition and fee assistance at Illinois institutions for Illinois undergraduate residents who are financially needy. Over the ten-year period examined in this report, MAP appropriations have increased substantially but the need for MAP has increased even more.
A Review of ISAC's Service Recognition Programs - (5/01, PDF format, 247KB)
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) provides financial aid to veterans and members of the Illinois National Guard, as well as the dependents of police, fire, or correctional officers killed or disabled in the line of duty, through its nonneed-based service recognition programs. Available data indicate most recipients of aid under these programs are enrolled full time at the undergraduate level and are completing undergraduate course work. The programs help the Illinois National Guard with recruitment efforts, assist veterans accessing training needed to reenter the civilian economy, and commemorate the service of police, fire, and correctional officers by providing educational benefits to their dependents.
Planning for Education Beyond High School, A Survey of Illinois Parents of Sixth Graders - (7/00, PDF format, 440KB)
In 1986, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) completed one of the first studies in the nation which identified that parents of eighth grade students lacked college planning information and had little knowledge of college costs. In an effort to update the 1986 study and assess the impact of outreach activities since the original survey, ISAC again surveyed Illinois parents. Because of national research suggesting the need to focus on parents of even younger students, this study surveyed the parents of sixth grade students, rather than eighth grade students. Findings from this current study reveal that Illinois parents still lack college-planning information; over half of them still have no idea how much it will cost their child to attend college; and they still don't know how they will pay for their child's college education.