Waubonsee Community College is working a way to help students who might not receive state grants on time this fall.
Students who were promised grants by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission aren't getting them, for now, because state officials have not adopted a budget. The commission doesn't know how much money it will get, and it doesn't have authority to spend any on grants and loans until the budget is passed.
As of Friday, that affected 552 Waubonsee students enrolled for the fall semester, at a cost of $263,317. Melinda James, the college's vice president of strategic development, said she expected the number to increase, because historically students receiving the grants tend to enroll at the last minute. Typically, more than 1,200 students, or about 8 percent, receive such grants, she said. Classes begin Monday.
The state is due to send the grants directly to Waubonsee Sept. 2. The college would then credit them to the students' accounts.
James said if the money doesn't arrive Sept. 2, the college will credit students' accounts by the amount they expected to receive, assuming the budget will be approved eventually.
"Then we can kind of kick the can a little further down the road until the Pell Grant distribution," James said.
If the money isn't received by the time federal Pell Grant awards roll in in October, the grant credit will be deducted from the students' Pell awards, James said. That could mean, however, that students would have to increase how much they borrow, or spend out of pocket, for their education.
The plan "is sort of like fronting the money," James said.
Almost all of the grant recipients have also been awarded Pell Grants, she said.
The state grants are for tuition and mandatory fees, for credit courses and those that lead to certificates.