Thursday, March 13, 2014

Double MAP!

In his 2014 State of the State address, Governor Quinn proposed doubling funding for the Illinois Monetary Awards Program (MAP). “So, over the next five years – let’s double the number of MAP college scholarships for students in need in Illinois. Our MAP scholarship program currently helps 140,000 students go to college.” He argued that “By doubling the number of MAP scholarships, we can make sure deserving students in need are equipped to excel in the 21st century workplace.”

I applaud this initiative from Governor Quinn. Doubling MAP funding will go a long way towards helping students in Illinois afford postsecondary education. I have blogged about MAP grants on the Education Policy blog before, but in this post I will look more closely at this recent proposal from Governor Quinn to get a better understanding of what doubling MAP funding would mean.

Will doubling MAP result in all eligible students receiving an award?
If we use the number in Governor Quinn’s speech, then currently 140,000 students receive MAP. Doubling the number of MAP recipients would enable 280,000 students to receive awards.

Data from the 2012 ISAC Databook shows that there were a total of 158,349 recipients who received MAP awards. With this base, doubling MAP would actually yield 316,698 awards.

In FY 2012 there were 369,674 students eligible for MAP. In that year, less than half – 158,349 students – received MAP awards.

If MAP had been doubled in FY 2012…

… and 280,000 students had received MAP grants, then 89,674 eligible students would have gone without MAP awards.
… and 316,698 students had received MAP grants, then 52,976 eligible students would have gone without MAP awards.

Even with my quick back-of-the-envelope calculations, it is clear that doubling MAP funding will not provide awards to all eligible students in Illinois. Even doubling the awards will still leave approximately 50,000-90,000 eligible students without MAP awards.

I applaud Governor Quinn’s proposal. Doubling MAP will go a long way towards enabling all eligible students to receive awards. However, even this level of investment is not enough to meet the current needs of the state. A larger investment in MAP is likely needed.

What will it cost to double MAP?
In FY 2012, the state spent a total of $411,604,561 on MAP grants. If we assume that there will not be any changes to the MAP program, then doubling the number of recipients could be financed by doubling the state appropriation for MAP to $823,209,122. Unfortunately, it is not clear if there will be approximately $823 million available for the MAP program in the state budget.

Do students who are eligible for MAP really need the award?
In FY 2012 there were 211,325 eligible students who did not receive a MAP award. These are individuals who applied for MAP funds and would have received an award if there had been enough funds available.

To give a sense of the financial need faced by these individuals, I think it is helpful to consider the average family income of students who qualified for MAP. Table 1 shows the burden of college prices for students who qualified for MAP awards. It shows data for both dependent students, who have parental help in paying for college, and independent students, who do not have parental financial support for college.

In FY 2012, mean family income of dependent students who were eligible for MAP awards was $30,822. For independent students, mean family income of students eligible for MAP awards was $15,762. In 2012, the federal poverty threshold for a family of four was $23,492. This means that the average independent student who qualified for MAP was living below the federal poverty line and that many of the dependent students were also below this threshold.

According to the College Board, in the 2011-12 academic year average published tuition and fees in Illinois were $3,259 at community colleges, $12,025 at public four-year institutions, and $29,483 at private non-profit four year institutions. The price at a for-profit institution was $16,814. Students who were eligible for MAP awards were most likely to attend community colleges (44% of dependent students and 65% of independent students). The percent of mean family income needed to pay average tuition at community colleges was 14% for dependent students and 22% for independent students. This is a substantial portion of the family’s total income, but community colleges were the most affordable option. At public four-year institutions, dependent students who qualified for MAP would need to pay nearly 36% of their total family income to cover tuition without a MAP award, on average. For independent students, public four year institutions represented a whopping 85% of their total family income, on average. If a student decided to attend DeVry University (a for-profit institution), then a dependent student would be required to pay over half of their total family income (nearly 54%) to cover tuition and an independent student would need to pay 86% of their total family income to cover tuition, on average. Private non-profit institutions are generally out of reach for MAP-eligible students requiring 71% of total family income from dependent students and nearly a year and a half of total family income (147%) for independent students to attend these institutions without financial assistance, on average. These numbers only consider tuition and fees, not room and board, books, or other expenses that are necessary for attending college.

Feeney and Heroff have shown that students who are eligible for MAP but do not receive an award are less likely to attend college. Hence, college dreams are likely to be dashed for students who are eligible for MAP but do not receive an award. MAP-eligible students really do need MAP awards.

Governor Quinn is on the right track in recommending doubling MAP funding, but more will also need to be done to ensure that financial barriers do not keep students from attending college.

No comments: