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Commission Miscalculates Financial Aid Money, Reduces Grants For 10K Students

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A miscalculation by a state agency could cost several thousand Illinois college students are losing some of their financial aid from the state, though colleges might make up the difference.

WBBM Newsradio's Bernie Tafoya reports, because of the way the timing works out, every year the Illinois Student Assistance Commission must guesstimate how much the legislature will provide for college tuition help under the Monetary Award Program.

Students Losing Some Financial Aid

This year, for the first time in 21 years, the commission was off on its calculation. ISAC overestimated its budget by $2 million, meaning less money for MAP grants for college students.

"The amount of money were talking about out of a $371 million appropriation is roughly $2 million, which is one-half of one-percent of the entire amount that's awarded to students," ISAC spokesman John Samuel said. "The last time that we were off was 1992, so … since then, we've done a remarkable job of spending. You know, our goal is to spend every dollar that's available without going over."

Nearly 10,000 students who were late in filing, but received grants anyway, will lose 10 percent of what was promised, according to Samuel. He said college financial aid offices suggested the solution.

"Look at 9,800 students who filed after the deadlines, and who we were subsequently able to make grant awards to, and to reduce their grants by an amount of approximately 10 percent," he said.

Samuel said it appears colleges have been eating that 10 percent difference.

"At this point, we have not heard of any school in Illinois – whether it's a public university, or a community college, or a private school – that is planning to charge students that 10 percent," he said.

Approximately 141,000 students receive MAP grants for next school year.

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