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Morton College Introduces Panther Balance Forgiveness Grant

(Cicero, IL) Morton College is introducing a new program for the Spring 2021 semester to help students in good academic standing, but are facing financial difficulties. 

The Panther Balance Forgiveness Grant Initiative, a one-time program, will allow students to enroll for the Spring 2021 semester even if they have a previous balance from the Fall or Summer 2020. The grant, funded through the CARES Act for the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEERF), will forgive up to $500 of a student’s previous balance. 

Marisol Velazquez, Dean of Student Services at Morton College, unveiled details of the program at the September 23rd Board of Trustees monthly regular meeting. 

“We want to remove financial barriers so students can get closer to completing a degree,” Velazquez explained. “This will help prevent students from dropping or stopping out of Morton College. Studies show there is a 30 percent likelihood that a college student who stops out for financial reasons will ever complete a degree.” 

Students close to completing their academic program, on track to graduate, in good academic standing and facing financial difficulties are candidates for the grant, according to Velazquez. 

“We realize many of our students are facing further financial barriers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, placing a burden to pay their tuition and fees,” Velazquez said. “Every semester, Morton College drops hundreds of students for a lack of payment. 

“We recognize that many students lack the funds to attend and/or continue college and most importantly that the lack of financing contributes to the student stopping or dropping out of college. The grant will offer qualified students the opportunity to stay enrolled or continue with their education if they have stepped out due to financial reasons.” 

Morton College plans to pre-identify qualified students and inform them about the grant program by either text, e-mail or phone. Those students will work with their academic advisor to complete a commitment letter. In addition, students must meet with their academic advisor twice and use recommended support services. 

Grant qualifications include: 

– Having 30 or fewer credits left to earn degree; 

– FASFA eligible; 

– Enrolled in minimum 6 credit hours (or fewer if need less than six to complete); 

– Pursing a certificate or degree; 

– Current cumulative GPA of 2.0; 

– Having a balance for fall or summer 2020; 

– Remaining enrolled through the end of the Spring 2021 semester. 

“Work and paying expenses are the top two challenges community college students face,” Velazquez said. “We’ve heard stories from students who are blocked from registering over past-due balances, but this program will definitely encourage them to enroll.” 

Spring semester enrollment begins on November 2nd for students with 30+ credit hours completed and November 9th for all students. For more information, please contact Marisol Velazquez, Dean of Student Services via email at Deansofstudents@morton.edu 

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