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Monday Letters: Understand who struggling college students really are

Jacqueline Suriano of Riverside, a college psychology major, has resorted to crowdfunding her education because of the prolonged budget stalemate in the Illinois capital. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

I applaud the Sun-Times Editorial Board and columnist Marlen Garcia for pointing a finger at lawmakers for their unwillingness to pass a budget and fund MAP grants for struggling college students in Illinois.

It’s important to remember that many of these students are working adults who are trying to support themselves and their families while also going to school. While it is easy to conjure up a picture of a traditional college student — young, fresh-faced, excited to join the adult world — most of the students eligible for need-based MAP grants are actually independent adults. Many are supporting themselves and simultaneously juggling work, school and family responsibilities. There are no good options for them if their college is unable to honor their MAP grant this semester. Coming up with an extra few hundred dollars—let alone thousands—is impossible. They either take on debt, try to do it all by working more and taking fewer classes or drop out altogether. The impact on their future, the future of their families, and the state will resonate for years to come.

It’s time for the state leadership to decide if we really want 60 percent of our population to hold a degree by 2025. That’s the stated goal of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, our lawmakers, and our colleges and universities. Even before this budget “impasse” began, thousands of students were denied funding because it is woefully insufficient—and 67 percent of them were independent adults. Now, because of a lack of leadership in this state, not a single student is receiving critical assistance.

Sarah Labadie

Senior Policy Associate

Women Employed


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‘Sulking’ officers

On Friday, Neil Steinberg stated that if Mayor Rahm Emanuel had denounced the shooting of Laquan McDonald immediately after it occurred, “How would that have played with the 11,000 Chicago Police Department members, who throw a sulk if treated with anything short of worship?”

I’m guessing that if one of Steinberg’s sons were mugged (as Emanuel’s son was), he would have been happy to see one of those “sulking” officers!

Christine Craven, Evergreen Park

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