June 30, 2011

MAP 2+2 Pilot benefits community college students

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A pilot program that will benefit transfer students and enhance Southern Illinois University Carbondale's relationships with the region's community colleges will enable qualifying students to graduate with little to no school-related debt.

The MAP 2+2 Pilot, available to students for the first time this fall, is for transfer students who receive MAP (Monetary Award Program) grants. MAP grants, which are awarded by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, typically go to students whose families are unable to contribute financially to their education costs. The dollar amount of a MAP grant varies, with amounts awarded to students attending a community college significantly lower than the dollar amount awarded to a student attending a university. Students in this pilot program “bank” the difference in MAP grant dollar amounts.

Here’s how it works: A student attends a Southern Illinois community college for two years in order to receive an associate degree. She or he transfers to SIUC to earn a bachelor’s degree. While at the community college, the student received a MAP grant of, on average, about $1,350 in an academic year. The MAP grant for a student attending SIUC is, on average, approximately $4,700 in an academic year. That’s a difference of approximately $3,350 per year. Students in this pilot program would be able to “bank” the difference in dollar amounts while attending the community college. When they attend SIUC, the “banked” money applies as additional money on top of the MAP grant they receive as SIUC students. In other words, the students receive a university dollar amount for a MAP grant for four years even though they spend their first two at a community college.

“We are excited to provide this much-needed help to our local students who want to take advantage of the opportunities we offer, but who lack the financial resources to complete their education,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said. “This program also reflects our ongoing efforts to build stronger relationships with our community college partners.”

John Nicklow, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, noted, “This gives us a greater opportunity to connect with those in our own backyard, and to offer an incredible educational experience to more students from Southern Illinois. We are extremely excited about the possibilities and future of this program.”

Tamara Workman, director of transfer student services, said the program will strengthen existing agreements between SIUC and area community colleges. It will also help students finish their degrees.

“We know that money is often the reason students are not able to finish their degrees -- especially in this region,” she said. “Having this extra money can make the difference for a student between finishing and not finishing, between having one job to help meet living expenses, or having three jobs.”

Workman’s proposal for this pilot initiative focused on degree programs already popular with transfer students, and on those that a transfer student should be able to complete in the two years at SIUC. Eligible students, then, must attend a Southern Illinois community college, must be enrolled in one of the approved degree programs, and must be full-time students in good academic standing.

The eligible community colleges are:

• Illinois Eastern Community College

• John A. Logan College

• Kaskaskia College

• Rend Lake College

• Shawnee Community College

• Southeastern Illinois College

• Southwestern Illinois College

The eligible bachelor degree programs at SIUC are:

• Agribusiness economics

• Agricultural sciences

• Animal science

• Biological sciences

• Business and administration

• Electronic systems technologies

• Health care management

• Hospitality and tourism administration

• Information systems technologies

• Plant and soil science

• Psychology

• Rehabilitation services

• Social work

• Technical resource management

The associate degree programs that lead into these bachelor degree programs have different names at different community colleges. To help students navigate the program, the SIUC service centers already in place at the community colleges will step up their availability. Workman said the centers will have full-time advisers beginning this fall. Students need to enroll in this program before the end of their first full-time semester as a community college student.

In addition, a new, centralized Transfer Student Service Center on campus will help transfer students take care of all their questions and concerns at one place.

“We’re trying to be proactive, and we’re listening to what students say they need from us,” Workman said. “For example, many of the financial aid related questions are general and basic --did you get my application, have I completed my paperwork thoroughly and completely? We want to be able to answer those basic questions in one place.”

Information about the Map 2+2 Pilot will be available online soon. For now, students who want more information can contact Transfer Student Services at 618/453-2012, or they may contact Amanda Sutton, 2+2 coordinator, at 618/453-7143.