Springfield considering alternate funding options for MAP grants

Peter Floess

Staff Writer

This spring, the state of Illinois is not funding the Monetary Award Program (MAP) due to disagreement in Springfield over the state budget. The state of

Photo by Zonghui Li | The Prospectus A parkland student fills out a form while waiting in the Financial Aid and Veteran Services Office.

Photo by Zonghui Li | The Prospectus
A parkland student fills out a form while waiting in the Financial Aid and Veteran Services Office.

In this Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016 photo, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, center at podium, delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly in the House chambers at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.  Illinois Democrats on Thursday approved $721.5 million to help community colleges and for tuition grants for low-income students  pay for tuition grants. But with no budget in place and the threat of a veto from the governor, Republicans called the Democrats move an empty promise to students. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

In this Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016 photo, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, center at podium, delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly in the House chambers at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. Illinois Democrats on Thursday approved $721.5 million to help community colleges and for tuition grants for low-income students pay for tuition grants. But with no budget in place and the threat of a veto from the governor, Republicans called the Democrats move an empty promise to students. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Illinois grants MAP awards to residents of Illinois who demonstrate financial need on their FAFSA, and attend college within the state.

According to Michelle Jett, who works in the office of Representative Carol Ammons of the 103rd District, the Illinois House of Representatives is considering bill SB2043 during the last of week of January. This bill would fund MAP grants through the use of money from the IL General Revenue Fund.

Representative Chad Hayes of the 104th district is putting his vote behind bill HB4521 that would fund 90 percent of funding to community colleges.

Bill HB 4521 would provide the Governor with emergency spending power and a significant amount of latitude to assist with managing the state’s finances during the ongoing budget stalemate.

Until bills SB2043 or HB 4521 are passed, students who previously received MAP grants must wait until Mar. 15 when scholarships for the Fall semester become available. According to Julie Marlatt of Parkland Financial Aid, Parkland offers many resources to students looking for financial aid. “Students can search for scholarships that Parkland College offers by checking on MyParkland and choosing the scholarship search option from the student services drop down menu,” says Marlatt. “

Another service available to students is SALT, an online resource Parkland has teamed up with to give students access to an abundance of financial resources.  Students can register at saltmoney.org/parklandcollege. SALT can help students revamp their budget to account for the loss of the MAP grant, and provides other resources such as scholarship and job searches.

According to Marlatt, Parkland College chose not cover the MAP grant, because of the state of Illinois’s current budget situation. “The College generally covers some expenses in advance pending State funding,” said Marlatt. “Since there is such uncertainty concerning the budget at this time, and because it added to the current deficit, the college was forced to advise students that they would not receive MAP grants in the spring.”

The IL 103rd District Representative’s office estimates that 1,000 Illinois students did not return to college this semester because they do not have their MAP funding. “It would be a huge loss if the budget situation were to continually negatively impact Parkland in a lasting manner,” Ammons said.

Charles Hayes, 104th district representative, says that the current situation of MAP grant is untenable and frankly, should not have happened.

“I am a proud community college graduate myself and find the current impasse disgraceful,” said Hayes.

Even though Ammons and Hayes disagree on the root causes of the stalemate and Governor Bruce Rauner’s role, both think that contacting Governor Rauner, as well as IL House of Representatives Speaker Michael Madigan, with comments on the issue of the MAP grants would be good idea.

“Students may even want to consider a rally at the capitol on a date that the Legislature is in session, said Hayes. “Visit your respective representatives individually to press legislators. specifically Speaker Madigan and Governor Rauner, in terms of agreeing to a budget, or at a minimum a funding conduit for MAP grants immediately.”

Another way Representative Ammons believes that students could help is to join the Responsible Budget Coalition, a group that is a large and diverse coalition of approximately 200 organizations concerned about state budget and tax issues.

“The people who have the most ability to move this situation forward are the voters,” said Jett. “Get loud, make your opinion heard to the Governor, to your state Representative, and state Senator, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. All of these people are working on your behalf, if you don’t think they are working in your best interest, let them know.”