Thursday Letters: Release Illinois funding for college financial aid

SHARE Thursday Letters: Release Illinois funding for college financial aid

As college has gotten more expensive every year, the demand for the Monetary Award Program, Illinois’ need-based financial aid, has grown. In recent years, more students who qualified for MAP did not get it than did get it. The program runs out of money earlier and earlier every year. This year, no one who qualified for MAP has gotten a penny.

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Twice in 2015, the General Assembly passed legislation to fund MAP. In May, House Bill 4146, which added $24 million to the governor’s original MAP request of $373 million, passed both chambers but was vetoed by the governor. In August, the Senate returned to Springfield and passed Senate Bill 2043, authorizing $373 million to MAP — the exact amount the governor requested in his proposed budget. Yet the governor vowed to veto Senate Bill 2043.

During the fall semester, Illinois public and private community colleges and four-year institutions fronted $168 million to over 130,000 students who had been awarded MAP grants. Dozens of these schools recently said they can’t do the same during spring semester. Students left out in the cold without MAP now face difficult choices: go deeper into debt, work more hours, take fewer classes, leave school for a semester or give up higher education entirely.

On Monday, I introduced Senate Bill 2226, which seeks to immediately release $168 million to cover the fall semester MAP grants. This legislation seeks to ease the cash squeeze schools are experiencing due to their fronting MAP money and signal to MAP students that the Legislature and governor are working together to invest in them, the future Illinois work force.

I urge members on both sides of the aisle in both chambers, and Gov. Bruce Rauner, to support Senate Bill 2226.

State Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Joliet)

Political figure

I wish the mayor had appointed a less political figure to look into police complaints in the city than Dan Webb. Perhaps an African-American choice would have worked. Of course, Patrick Fitzgerald was my first choice, (now in private practice.)

The city seems to constantly investigate itself with little effective change. Webb’s handling of the Koschman death with its 60-day sentence for Robert Vanecko, most of it spent at home confinement (or in Southern California), does not inspire the sort of confidence the city needs after so many defensive-death lawsuits and settlements paid out by the city.

Chicago cannot afford to become the laughingstock of the nation; home of our president and the death of so many youthful African-Americans.

Vincent Kamin, Loop

Greed was everywhere

I applaud the Sun-Times for giving someone an opportunity to discuss their view on ‘The Big Short” and Wall Street, but am glad it’s only an opinion. The fact the author of this article recognizes most of the subprime mortgages were concentrated in the private market is a good start. The article’s author does fail to communicate they were a major cause in the crash. How you ask, well, most of these private market mortgages were given by people who are familiar with the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae guidelines. They were also savvy with the fact that a lot of the existing mortgage companies sell the loan/mortgage within days of financing the recipient.

The term mortgage broker wasn’t mainstream until the lure of easy credit and low interest rates. There was a greed factor in these private market operations. Just as there was when many everyday folks decided that flipping a house was so easy to profit on, they became contractors. The bottom line in both cases was the lure and appearance of fast, easy money.

These mortgage brokers and on a larger scale Countrywide, utilized softer borrowing practices. Yes, these guidelines were trimmed down so many people on the lower scale of “middle class” and “lower class” people could achieve owning their own homes. These reduced guidelines were instituted by the Federal government, mainly under the Clinton administration.

The main thing about a Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae mortgage is similar to a U.S. Treasury Bond. While the mortgage isn’t guaranteed in full faith and credit by the U.S. government, a Fannie/Freddie approved mortgage is darn close. As with any credit derivative, there are tranches. The larger the return, the more risk the tranche associated with it has. The only difference in this credit derivative is that is was based on the general publics debt/mortgages, whereas others are on corporations. The same premise applies to both. The least creditworthy are in the riskiest tranche, but offer the greatest return.

The only issue you should have with Wall Street is when they realized that a large majority of these loans were given to people who really weren’t qualified or sustained the income level to pay off their mortgages. They were sold mortgages that met Freddie and Fannie guidelines. Once they were hip to the criminal acts the mortgage brokers were engaging in, they quickly looked to rid themselves of these risks. The unfortunate action was that it was sold to unsuspecting investors, because they were touted as safe investments. The credit rating agencies Moody’s, etc., are also to blame.They had folks in the rooms who didn’t understand the basics of these contracts and were coerced into giving satisfactory ratings.

The fact everyone who looks to solely blame Wall Street for the crash and greed is grossly mistaken. The greed was everywhere, from the people seeking mortgages they couldn’t afford, to the mortgage brokers who allowed and took advantage of an ease in the guidelines. There are people who signed up for loans, knowing making the monthly payment would be tough if they wanted to put food on the table, and allow for other expenses. The mortgage brokers knew they weren’t taking any “real” risk since the loan would be sold to Wall Street anywhere from 24-72 hours from approval and close. It was Wall Street who eventually realized they were sold a pile of dung. All they did was look to grab the shovels, and put it from the office onto the street. If anyone says that they wouldn’t do the same thing, I’d have to question their honesty.

Scott Strand, Ashburn

Stop the suffering

While some people, like me, are fortunate enough to be allowed the opportunity to use medical cannabis to relieve our symptoms, Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to relentlessly hold the benefits of this remarkable drug hostage for thousands of patients resulting in agonizing and sometimes unbearable consequences.

The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, a state-appointed body composed of medical experts and patients, diligently examined research and physician and individual testimony before recommending eight debilitating conditions be added to the Medical Cannabis Registry Program including four chronic pain related illnesses, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder.

As a nurse, I am asking the governor to look beyond the condition and consider the person suffering from these ailments. As an approved patient, for the first time ever, my symptoms of chronic nausea, pain, lack of appetite and sleep disturbances are much more manageable. Working with the staff at my dispensary I have found strains that address my daytime, and nighttime symptoms.

From a nursing perspective, patients come first and our belief is that they should have safe access to therapeutic medicine, including cannabis. Illinois has a program that provides safe access to cannabis. Why arbitrarily limit its very real and life-changing benefits to just a few? It doesn’t make sense. Gov. Rauner, please have faith in the advisory board, listen to its recommendations, and allow the patients who suffer from these chronic illnesses this viable, safe treatment option.

Maureen Bake, RN. American Cannabis Nurses Association

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