For the second time, students began this school year without a (Monetary Award Program) MAP grant budget from the state of Illinois. Last semester, it was said that the grant would be discussed after the presidential elections this past November. However, students have yet to hear an update on this budget.
MAP grants are funds provided to eligible students who demonstrate a financial need and attend an approved college in Illinois. These grants don’t need to be repaid and are based on the student’s information on the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Every year, the State budget is approved by the Illinois General Assembly. However, last year governor, Bruce Rauner, and the General Assembly didn’t reach an agreement for the 2016 fiscal year. This lead to MAP funds not being released until April and June of 2016. As last year’s fiscal year, 2017 is yet to have a budget approved.
“We are hopeful that the State will pass a comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2017 (corresponding to the 2016-17 academic year) that will include funding for MAP. While the governor and legislators have expressed their support for MAP funding, there is currently no MAP appropriation for the 2016-17 academic year. A budget is not expected until sometime after January 24, 2017, when the General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene,” reads Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) on their website.
“As of January 24, 2017, MAP and ISAC’s other gift assistance programs are not yet funded for the 2016-17 academic year,” states ISAC on their website, “Notably, the governor and legislators in both chambers indicated that they are still interested in providing ‘an appropriate level of support’ for MAP in fiscal year 2017. The General Assembly reconvened in January and it is anticipated that they will work on developing a comprehensive budget for the fiscal year during their session.”
Although the MAP grant is listed on eligible students’ financial aid award letter, ISAC’s website states that, while they are hopeful, they “cannot guarantee” students will receive the money. “MAP has been included in every comprehensive Illinois budget since 1967, and funding was ultimately provided for 2015-16 MAP awards, albeit at the very end of the fiscal year. We are hopeful that the State will pass a comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2017 (corresponding to the 2016-17 academic year) that will include funding for MAP.”
More than half of SXU’s undergraduate students receive these grants. On February 8th, SXU students participated for the second time in a rally at the State Capitol in order to “urge Governor Rauner and State Legislators to release funds for MAP grants.” Students from other public and private universities also attended, such as Loyola University, Dominican University, and DePaul University.
The rally began at 1:00pm. Following the rally, students expressed their concerns to the legislators.
SXU has been very active at advocating for MAP grants. Last year, SXU students also raised awareness on this matter through rallies, social media, and visits to Springfield.
Additionally, Lauren Jordan, sophomore majoring in Marketing, created last year’s MAP logo for the #MAPMATTERS movement. The design was used in all rallies and universities that took part in refunding the grant. Jordan created the logo through SXU’s Collegiate Scholars of Marketing and Communication Association (CSMCA), a student-run organization that combines marketing and communication skills to benefit the university.
It was Jordan’s first time designing a logo. She felt very proud it was selected and used. “I was honored. I was very happy that they liked it and that people can use it as a symbol to bring the MAP grant back.”
Jordan stated that for the logo, she was inspired by SXU’s colors. The red, black and grey colors are displayed proudly on the design.
Jordan also shared her thoughts on the MAP grant situation, “I think it’s something that a lot of college students are aware of but not the general population is. A lot of my friends wouldn’t be here [at SXU] if it wasn’t for the MAP grant . . . it’s not just our school, it’s the whole state.”
“I think we should definitely bring [the MAP grant] back . . . It’s unfair for [students] our age who are depending on the MAP grant. Now it’s up to the school to keep this going, otherwise a lot of students will not be able to afford it. It’s almost like you’re missing out on your college education because of something the state guaranteed you . . . I think it’s really unfair. Hopefully they pass the state budget so MAP grant can come back,” concluded Jordan.
For any questions you may have, visit the Financial Aid Office in room A-216.
Senior News Editor