This is an exciting and anxious time of the year for students starting or heading back to college. Campuses will soon be buzzing with activity. But for about 136,000 of the state’s most financially vulnerable students, the excitement of the start of a new school year comes with real uncertainty.
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Students who depend on the help of a Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant to attend college are caught up in the gears of a protracted state budget stalemate. No appropriation has been made to fund the MAP program. And that leaves students and families evaluating how they’ll pay for college and campuses across the state debating how best to help those students – with the clock ticking.
MAP funding is a priority in Springfield. Every budget proposal from the governor and legislators this session has included flat or increased funding for the program. The support is well founded. MAP has been widely recognized for providing efficient resources to needy students, many of whom could not attend classes otherwise.
At the state’s not-for-profit colleges and universities that my federation represents, we average a 6-to-1 match of our institutional aid dollars to help insure our education to MAP recipients. We know that by investing in these students, we help make college degrees possible for them and efficiently leverage scarce state resources.
Our state’s goal of having 60 percent of our population with a higher education credential by 2025 is in jeopardy without stable MAP funding. We respectfully urge the governor and General Assembly, as they debate how to make Illinois more competitive and attractive, to find a way forward in providing this critical funding to our state’s neediest students. Illinois’ future depends on it.
David Tretter is president of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities in Springfield.
Take Nixon’s cue on going green
If the Republican Presidential candidates want to be more progressive and inclusive they should embrace Richard Nixon’s green legacy. President Nixon was instrumental in enacting the endangered species act, the marine mammal protection act, the clean air and clean water acts and in the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency. People of all races, religions and genders appreciate a pristine environment replete with clean air and water. The majority of voters also want to protect endangered species and marine mammals.Brien Comerford