MACOMB – In a recent press statement Western Illinois University introduced its Promise Plus Program as part of the new “AIM HIGH” merit-based scholarship program created by the state of Illinois.
The WIU Promise Plus program is designed to significantly reduce or offset tuition and fees, plus other costs like room, meal plan, books and course materials for new freshmen enrolling in Fall 2019. Promise Plus program works in conjunction with the AIM HIGH initiative which offers financial incentives to keep Illinois students in-state.
The AIM HIGH initiative was passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law Governor Rauner on August 21 as SB2927.
WIU Associate Vice President for Students Services and Interim Director of Admissions Jason Woods spoke about the program during a Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday. Although he was not on the agenda, Interim Provost Kathy Neumann gave some of her floor time for his report to the senate.
”(On Monday), we ended up launching our Promise Plus program, which is conjunction with one of the initiatives that the state has given in regards to AIM HIGH funding,” Woods said. “So, the state awarded (money) to each state institution for financial purposes... but you also had to match that money; there had to be an institutional match to that money.“
WIU was awarded a little over $1.4 million by the state. WIU has instituted the Promise Plus Program with that money, which he said will “hopefully allow us to leverage our financial aid even further than had before.” WIU has put up matching funds through its Promise Plus Program to meet the AIM HIGH funding grant which it has received from the state.
Woods said a student must meet certain criteria to be eligible to receive funding through the Promise Plus program, including a high school GPA of 2.75 out of a 4.0 scale and a 21 ACT score. Western sets the academic criteria while AIM HIGH funding criteria is set by the state of Illinois.
“And then there is threshold from a financial aid perspective that you need to have,” Woods said. ”...Depending on how many people are in your family, for example, a family of four can have a maximum income of $147,600, and this criteria is not based on Western setting this criteria. These are criteria that were set by the AIM High funding coming from the state.“
Woods reiterated that the criteria are by the state of Illinois, not by Western, and the program is not currently offered to transfer students. Woods said that the state requires a public institution commit to the AIM High funding program for four-and-a-half years, and the commitment begins next fall 2019.
Students will begin receiving funding beginning next year, Woods said, and will receive that funding for four-and-a-half years. Qualifying freshman students who begin their academic careers in the fall of 2019 at WIU will receive the funding, depending on their family size and income.
Funding from the Promise Plus Program is made available to students depending on their need for financial assistance. Determining that begins when they fill out and submit a completed FASFA application, Woods said, and “that comes back to us as to how much money you are eligible for. So, the goal is to maximize our institutional funds.”
The money a student is eligible to receive depends on their particular situation, and so there is no fixed amount allotted to a student who qualifies both academically and financially. Woods explained the state has the financial criteria set to where “students cannot have more than six times the poverty threshold for a family of a specific size. So, again if you’re a family of four, the limit is $147,600. If it’s a family of six, the amount is $197,760.“
If you are looking for additional information about AIM HIGH funding and WIU’s Promise Plus Program, go to http://www.wiu.edu/vpaps/your_choice/index2.php
This article was in the McDonough County Voice and written by Christopher Ginn, Voice Correspondent. Reach Christopher Ginn by email at [email protected] or find him on Facebook