It's about being an adult



Totes from the Auto Show

20160219_134550Most major auto makers drew in crowds with games, tests drives, and free tote bags. Totes were given away to carry all the random ads and flyers and brochures of cars and their features. Some reps wanted to get some information from you before rewarding you with a tote, others just threw them on tables and let people grab as many as they pleased.It seemed most people were drawn in by the giveaway or booth promising a test drive, rather than the car on display.

Dodge had a line wrapped around an indoor track that offered visitors a ride in one of their vehicles. The car would wait behind a gate until it was signaled in, then it sped off and quickly stopped, showing off the quick pick up of each car. 20160219_141328A crowd gathered around the line hoping to catch a free shirt or hat from the reps entertaining the long line of eager people. Don’t want to wait in the line? Head over to their booth and fill out a form so that a dealer can contact you about their fleet of vehicles. Your information is worth a nifty little flashlight or a Dodge beanie. Totes were available, but required more work than they were worth.

Ford lured people in with a free raffle every hour, but people must be present in order to win their prize. It seemed simple enough, just write your name on a small piece of paper and show up for the drawing. But first, Ford wanted to talk to you about the 2017 F-150 Raptor, the presentation took about 15 minutes or so and then a name was drawn to win an oversized plush toy.

Henry the robot was also a nice touch to Ford, the robot who was controlled by a rep behind the scenes, cracked jokes and entertained the crowds with mini quizzes and witty remarks. The automaker also had a driving simulator, but for those who want the real deal, tests drives were offered right outside McCormick place. Don’t forget to pick up a free tote or two. 

Toyota had a prize dispenser that rewarded you for using their hashtag on Instagram. Just snap a picture and post it and a machine kindly thanks yo20160219_142043u and give you a random prize – I got a cardholder. Their totes were available at a mini kiosk, no sign up or humoring required. They too, had an indoor track for people who wanted to get a ride in one of their 2017 models. Reps pick up passengers and drove them around a small course that highlighted their different safety features and smooth driving.
They were supposed to have a simulator and Oculus Rift technology, maybe it was on select days because aimless wandering resulted in neither to be found.

Camp Jeep was one of the more impressive obstacle courses that drove over steep hills and rugged dirt tracks made to look like the great outdoors. While waiting in line, less than enthusiastic reps handed out drawstring bags to distracted visitors.20160219_141753_002

Most of the 2017 vehicles on display were unlocked, which allowed people to play with some features and touch the interior leather and custom trim. Other vehicles sat on glossy platforms or behind velvet ropes where curious hands were out of reach.

Other booths included:20160219_141253

  • Shell the gas company: car enthusiasts can spin a wheel to win some savings at the pump with discount cards (no totes).


  • State Farm: offered a lounge and a brief informational session about their services along with prizes. Fill out a short questionnaire and receive a card that revealed a prize for participating. Most people walked away with a tote bag, but a lucky few won: Beats headphones, Bose speaker, or phone charger that can jump-start a car battery.
  • Chicago Blackhawks: fans had the opportunity to meet the Ice Girls and sign up and win a limited edition Blackhawks Camero along with posters, rally towels, drawstring bags and more.


If you are interested in actually buying a car, reps are available to talk to you about financing and leasing options. For those not willing to humor the sales representatives, pamphlets and informational booklets were scattered across desks and kiosks to fill your totes. Most opted to leave them behind and enjoy looking at just looking at cars while collecting freebies.

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Farewell MAP grant, Rauner promises you

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.

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