More Illinois students now qualify for college financial aid. State government will now offer money to students who might have been disqualified from getting federal help.
Those students largely fall into two categories: those who are undocumented because they immigrated to the U.S. as children, and transgender students who did not register for the draft.
By filling out Illinois’ new “Alternative Application,” they will now be able to apply for state-funded Monetary Award Program grants. Those are primarily designed to help low-income or otherwise disadvantaged college students.
Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz says the new application is designed to get rid of an obstacle that has kept certain students from college.
“There’s a strong likelihood that these folks will continue to remain residents," Ruiz said. "They can best serve their state and be productive taxpayers if they’re able to fulfill their God-given potential by becoming educated.”
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission doled out $450 million dollars in MAP grants this school year. Governor J.B. Pritzker has pledged to increase that funding by another $150 million by 2022.
Ruiz says widening the eligibility pool for MAP grants and increasing the program's funding is all part of a plan to enroll more students at Illinois’ colleges and universities. When Illinois failed to pass a state budget for several years, it was one of the hardest hit programs.
This is a way to encourage more of those students who are here and are Illinois residents to obtain funding so they can pursue their higher education goals," he said.
The governor's office estimates dozens of newly-qualified students have already applied for MAP grant funding. Seven other states have adopted similar changes to their college assistance programs.
Here's a link to a roundup of common questions surrounding the new application process.