SIUE students leaving campus this week can enjoy the holidays without worrying about their MAP grants — or whether their campus will close next year.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville officials confirmed that students who expected to receive the state’s Monetary Assistance Grants to help pay for spring tuition will be extended credit for them.
“We are going to continue in the spring as we did in the fall: Give the students credit until the state reimburses us, which we are still confident they are going to do,” said spokesman Doug McIlhagga.
$8 million Yearly amount of MAP grant money given to about 2,900 SIUE students
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Administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, MAP grants are awarded based on the family’s income and the number of classes a student plans to take. The state grant is offered to low-income students and can only be used on tuition and fees, unlike federal Pell grants and other financial aid that can be used on books, living expenses and other costs of attending college.
About 2,900 SIUE students receive MAP grants each year for a total of $8 million per year, and for the lowest-income students, it can cover as much as half their tuition.
But with the ongoing state budget crisis, SIUE has not been paid the funds allocated for its students’ MAP grants for the fall and spring semesters.
The state also has not sent universities their appropriation for this year. SIUE expected nearly $60 million over the course of the year, but has not received any of it.
However, despite recent media reports, the university will not close this fiscal year or next, officials said. SIU President Randy Dunn said last week’s reports of the campuses’ closure were “flat-out wrong.”
“None of the SIU campuses are going to close, not now, nor in the future,” Dunn said.
The SIU system is surviving with a number of different methods, Dunn said. They are using reserve funds by borrowing from special accounts such as grants and contracts, pulling cash from revenue-generating accounts for general operations, slowing vendor payments and halting discretionary spending.
Those are stopgap measures, Dunn said; money from special accounts cannot be used for general operations long-term, and the funds will have to be repaid — and the vendors will expect their checks.
Dunn said the misunderstanding stemmed from his comment if there is still no state budget at the end of the fiscal year in June, they will have to deal with the same issues all over again. “I may have said something like ‘We can’t do that again,’” Dunn said. “It’s a serious situation, but we’ve identified the means to get through it as a system… We have the ability to keep everything going as normally as possible for our students and the region, more than numerous of our smaller competitor institutions.”
None of the SIU campuses are going to close, not now, nor in the future.
SIU President Randy Dunn
SIUE Interim Chancellor Stephen Hansen reiterated Dunn’s comments that SIUE is not in danger of closing in the near future. In preparation for anticipated cuts at the state level, SIUE enacted a 9 percent “budget realignment” that reduced spending by $13.4 million.
“While the lack of a state budget is a financial crisis, SIUE will not close,” he said. “Our budget realignment has put us in a sound fiscal position for this fiscal year and next.”
Specifically, financial director Bill Winter said like the SIU system as a whole, SIUE is shifting money from cash reserves in other fund groups.
“This is not discretionary money, but is rather money collected in other fund groups for other purposes,” he said. “This money must be paid back and cannot permanently be used for the expenses it is currently covering, but we can borrow it in the short term to continue meeting our obligations.”
However, SIUE will not receive any of its state appropriation of nearly $60 million until the state approves a budget, Winter said.