Illinois urges college students to apply for financial aid

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois officials say college students should continue to apply for financial aid, even though the state budget impasse has put grants for needy students on hold.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is encouraging students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The form determines if a student is eligible for most financial aid programs, including Illinois’ Monetary Award Program, or MAP grants.

Funding for the grants has been frozen due to a stalemate between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and majority Democrats, leaving schools and students wondering how they’ll pay their bills.

ISAC Director Eric Zarnikow says students shouldn’t assume the grants won’t be available for the 2016-2017 school year. He says it’s possible lawmakers will approve the funding, and students can’t get money if they don’t apply.