While it may be grabbing most of the headlines, the federal "Cash for Clunkers" program is not the only government grant program to run out of money well ahead of schedule this year. The state funding allocated to Illinois Monetary Awards Program (MAP) grants, college financial aid awards for needy students, was slashed during state budget cuts this year. As a result, awards have been cut in half for all students and have been denied outright to over 130,000 students who applied after May 15, a significantly earlier cutoff date than previous years.
Typically, community colleges, who typically apply for financial aid later in the year and often have access to fewer financial resources, are likely to be the hardest hit.
Illinois isn't the only state forced to make cuts to its college grant programs. California and Ohio are among others that have recently gained attention for cutting aid to college students. If you live in a state that's been forced to reduce student financial aid, you still have options to pay for college. Before looking into student loans or considering a semester off, conduct a free college scholarship search. Scholarships, including state and local scholarships, are still out there despite the recession.