If you are a low-income student who lives in the state of Illinois, you may have benefited from the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant. The grant provides financial relief to students wanting to pursue a college education, but may not have the money to do so. The program has been around since 1967 and was funded in the late 50’s with only $600,000. Today, the MAP grant aids approximately 130,000 students in the state of Illinois by providing over $370 million in financial assistance.
According to the Chicago Tribune, 21 community colleges and 15 private colleges have already indicated that their MAP grant recipients will be held accountable for any unpaid balance if a budget is not established and funds are not disbursed by the state, that can be a maximum of $4,720.
The chart below is a small example of schools affected by the budget standstill that has many students wondering whether or not they will be footing the bill for a grant that was never supposed to be repaid. More so, students who cannot afford the cost may find themselves dropping out.
On Monday January 25, Illinois lawmakers approved bill SB 2040 that would provide funding for the MAP grant, but it has been on hold and waiting the approval of Governor Bruce Rauner, who does not want to fund the MAP grant and has promised to veto the bill once it reaches his desk.
Rauner is also fighting CPS in an attempt to take over the Chicago school system calling it “failed”, referring to the work of Rahm Emanuel. Senate President John Cullerton expressed outrage along with House Speaker Michael Madigan who,
“each accused Rauner of using Chicago Public Schools’ financial crisis as a new avenue to push his efforts to curb union power while diverting attention from the lack of a state budget.”
As the bill sits and awaits its fate, approximately 466 Concordia River Forest students wonder if estimated funds of $2.4 million will be distributed to the university. Concordia’s Director of Financial Aid Aida Ascencio-Pinto said, “Degrees will not be held hostage,” and asked graduating seniors to have any balances outside the MAP grant settled in order to attend the graduation ceremony on May 7. This gave students hope: perhaps Concordia is willing to forgive the balance if the state does not pass a budget.
The bill is scheduled to arrive at Rauner’s desk for a decision on February 16.