Local lawmaker calls for reform with college financial aid - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local lawmaker calls for reform with college financial aid

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(WSIL) -- Thousands of students were denied MAP grant funding last year despite meeting the criteria for low-income families, and there are more than a dozen cases in Illinois where students from wealthier families used a loophole to qualify for financial aid.

Under federal guidelines, the move allows those students to claim they're financially independent and therefore, they qualify for student aid meant to go to low-income families.

"You have taken something that's kind of a sacred responsibility and you're turning that sacred responsibility, in essence, over to someone else for the expressed purpose of monetary gain," State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said.

Bryant is a member of multiple higher education committees in the House and she said lawmakers have worked hard to fund the MAP grant program, so it hurts her to see families gaming the system.

"We find that every year, when MAP grants are funded, and we worked very hard to get them funded at this point, that you run out of MAP grant money prior to running out of students in need," Bryant said.

MORE: Rep. Bryant calls parents cheating Illinois financial aid system "reprehensible"

ProPublica published a report Monday detailing the problem.

The report found dozens of cases where families in suburban Chicago used the loophole.

Bryant said the loophole needs to be closed, "I'm always looking for ways for places where we can alleviate waster, fraud and abuse, and this is definitely one of those items that you look at that involves fraud and abuse."

Because the problem just came to light, she said she's not sure how specifically those reforms will take place, but they need to happen to make sure financial aid goes to the right people.

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