Erin Patrick, Social Media Coordinator and Copy Editor
The Jan. 1 deadline for the Monetary Award Program, or MAP grant, is officially past. It’s now 2017 and the defunding of MAP awards is still an ongoing battle.
In May 2016, headlines announced the backlash against the defunding of MAP awards. While headlines are still roaring about information regarding higher education, any news on the funding of MAP grants seem to have been M.I.A. up until recently.
News was released Jan. 9 that public universities may see state funding re-established to the level it was before the beginning of the ongoing budget impasse.
Due to the budget cut during the 2014-15 school year, nine public Illinois universities have been funded through emergency measures. Schools such as Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois and Western Illinois University have experienced spending cuts and hundreds of employees were laid off as a result of the stalemate between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the majority Democratic General Assembly.
The new Senate package for this year is supposed to have allocated $1.1 billion for higher education. Dan Petrella and Debby Hernandez Lee, both Springfield Bureau writers, commented on the distribution of the Senate package.
“That includes money for universities, community colleges and grants to low-income students through the Monetary Award Program,” said Petrella and Hernandez. The MAP grants will hopefully be seeing a revival in the new state budget.
Last February, Lewis staff and students wrote 1,700 letters pleading for the support of MAP grants and sent the letters to Rauner as part of the “Stuff the Box” initiative.
As the state budget deficit has continued on into this school year, many current Lewis students are still affected financially because of the state government’s stalemate. Janeen Decharinte, director of financial aid, has been working diligently to aid the students at Lewis affected by the state budget crisis.
“The uncertainty of the state budget is the most challenging for our students. We have been working with students one-on-one who have been affected by the state deficit,” said Decharinte.
Senior political science and criminal justice major Alexis Del Toro was a recipient of the MAP grant last year. Del Toro relies on financial aid to afford college, and worries for students such as herself who have extra anxiety about affording college with the MAP grant suspension still in place.
“Not having this MAP grant will not only put a strain on me financially, but also academically. I am already working extremely hard every week in order to pay what scholarships and aid isn’t covering,” said Del Toro. “This takes a toll on my time spent studying or doing homework.”
This year, university President Dr. Livingston is inviting students to attend a “Pack The Bus” event Feb. 8. Livingston and students will take a trip to Springfield, where a statehouse rally will be held in defense of funding for higher education.
“The Monetary Award Program is crucial to funding for those students who are academically well-qualified to succeed, but require additional financial support in order for these students to complete a degree. We need to keep pressure on the state to fulfill its promise to these students,” said Livingston.
Those interested in attending the event should reserve a spot on the bus through a link provided by Livingston’s twitter page, Twitter.com/DrLivLewisU.