Suspense: 2016-17 MAP Grants
ISAC will suspend the announcement of 2016-17 MAP grants as follows:
- for all students who are not dislocated workers and whose initial 2016-17 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is received by the federal processor on or after March 10, 2016 (the “suspense date”); and
- for individuals who are dislocated workers and whose initial 2016-17 FAFSA is received by the federal processor on or after August 16, 2016. For more information on dislocated workers, see the FAQ on the topic, below.
MAP awards are made on a first come, first-served basis for eligible students, and available funding runs out quickly for the program. This year, if your FAFSA is received on or after January 1 but before the applicable suspense date (as outlined above) and you are eligible for MAP, you should expect to receive an estimated MAP award. If you are eligible for MAP but your FAFSA is received after the applicable suspense date, you might still have an opportunity to receive a MAP grant, and you would be notified later in 2016 or early 2017 if funds become available.
For quick reference, see the chart, below:
2016-17 MAP APPLICANT AWARD ANNOUNCEMENT STATUS CHART
|Type of Applicant||Initial FAFSA®
|Standard||January 1, 2016 through
March 9, 2016
|March 10, 2016 and after||Suspended||Yes|
(includes independent students who are dislocated workers)
|January 1, 2016 through
August 15, 2016
|August 16, 2016 and after||Suspended||Yes|
If you have not yet filled out a FAFSA, we encourage you to do so. The FAFSA determines eligibility for financial aid other than MAP for which you might be eligible, such as federal Pell grants and institutional aid. Also, if MAP funds do become available later in 2016 or early 2017, the only way you can be considered for MAP is to file a FAFSA.
I understand that MAP still has not been funded for 2015-16 because of the state budget delay. In light of that, if my FAFSA is received before my applicable suspense date, will I definitely get a MAP grant?
First, you must be determined to be eligible for MAP, which is a need-based grant program. If you are eligible for MAP and your FAFSA is received on or before the suspense date, you would be informed in a financial aid award letter, sent from the MAP-approved colleges to which you were admitted, that you are eligible for a grant and would be told the estimated amount. These letters are all required to include language that states, in part: “MAP grants are limited based on the number of applicants and funding levels appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly. Please be aware that in light of state funding constraints, reductions to estimated or actual MAP grants are possible.”
What that means is that, as long as you remain eligible, you will receive a MAP grant if the program is funded. The amount could be lower than your estimated maximum grant, though, if the final budget makes a significant reduction in funding for the program.
MAP has been funded for almost 50 years and continues to have strong bipartisan support. Unfortunately, because of the delay in passing a final state budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (corresponding to the 2015-16 school year), MAP has not yet been funded for 2015-16. Some colleges were able to credit student accounts for MAP, allowing the students to attend classes as the colleges waited for the state to reimburse them for MAP. Other colleges were not able to do so, and MAP students at those colleges had to find additional funding elsewhere, take fewer classes, or in some cases, transfer or choose not to attend. Students and colleges have faced significant challenges as a result of the budget delay.
Both the Governor and the General Assembly have expressed support for MAP, and while they have not yet been able to agree on an approach to funding the program, they continue to work to find common ground. Because the program continues to have bipartisan support, we still expect that MAP will be funded for the 2015-16 and the 2016-17 school years.
If my FAFSA is received on or after my applicable suspense date, is there any possibility I can still get a MAP grant?
If your FAFSA is received on or after your suspense date, it is still possible that you could receive a MAP grant, but you should not count on it. Every year there are students who do not use their MAP awards, and those who are eligible for MAP and whose FAFSAs are received after but very close to the “suspense date” may have an opportunity to get those awards. In the 2014-15 school year, for example, MAP-eligible students whose FAFSAs were received within six days after the suspense date were ultimately granted MAP awards. Please note, however, that if MAP funds for the 2016 fall semester do become available for students whose FAFSAs are received after the suspense date, those students will not likely be notified of their MAP award until late 2016 or early 2017.
Why don’t students get more notice of the suspense date?
Because we need to start processing MAP application information long before we know how much funding we will receive, we use information from the previous year to determine when to suspend announcements of MAP awards. (Note: because there still has not been a final amount of MAP funding for the 2015-16 school year, we used information from the 2014-15 school year to help us determine when to suspend announcements of MAP for the upcoming school year). We regularly monitor, analyze and forecast application volume in order to get as close as possible to a point where we are announcing as many awards as possible without exceeding expected available funding. As a result, we are not able to announce the actual suspense date many days ahead, but we announce as soon as we are able to make that determination. ISAC however, regularly communicates with our college and high school partners and encourages them to communicate to their students to file their FAFSAs as soon as possible. We have also communicated that message to students and parents we work with directly through our own outreach, as well as through opinion pieces submitted to news outlets around the state.
What is the Dislocated Worker Program?
Legislation passed in 2014 established a two-year program for Illinois workers who have been dislocated and who are applying for the MAP grant in order to return to college or enroll for the first time. The intent of the initiative is to allow applicants who are dislocated workers an opportunity to receive a MAP grant even if they apply later than the general pool of applicants.
ISAC is suspending the announcement of 2015-16 MAP grants for independent student applicants who are dislocated workers and whose initial 2015-16 FAFSA is received by the federal processor on or after August 16, 2016.
For additional information on the Illinois Monetary Award Program, see the MAP area of the Students & Parents section of our website.