UIC repays student aid after MAP shortfall

MAP grant illustrationThe Illinois Student Assistance Commission asked 320 UIC students to pay back 10 percent of their Monetary Award Program grants after the group allocated too many awards this year, but the students will not be held responsible for repaying the funds.

UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares and Provost Lon Kaufman decided the university will repay the $120,000 requested by the state and replace the students’ grants with institutional funds, said Timothy Opgenorth, director of financial aid.

The commission sent the names directly to UIC Friday; the students were notified by email today.

“We’re going to hold students harmless,” he said. “The chancellor and provost made the decision that, given the time of year, it would not be fair for us to say, ‘You need to repay the state.’”

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is asking that 10 percent of grants awarded to 9,500 students across the state be returned to compensate for a $2 million shortfall.

ISAC uses enrollment predictions to calculate how many awards it can grant to students, Opgenorth said.

Originally, MAP grants were awarded to students who had completed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid by March 19, 2012. In December, ISAC granted more awards to students who had completed their FAFSA by April 2, 2012.

“At the end of fall term, when schools report the money they’ve spent, ISAC determines if they have more money available,” Opgenorth said. “They opened it up to more students. With the overfunding, ISAC said that those students needed to pay back 10 percent of their award.”

In the seven years Opgenorth has led UIC’s financial aid office, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission has never requested a return of MAP funds.

“It’s a very difficult process because they try to spend every penny and it’s tough to predict enrollment when they’re working with every institution in the state,” he said.

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