WSIL – The first session day for Illinois Senators in 2016 was on Wednesday, when legislation was introduced at a press conference to appropriate $168 million for MAP grants.
At the middle of a seventh month with no state budget, funding for primary and secondary education is still being paid out as normal. That is because Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed off on that spending, but left out post-secondary education.
Lawmakers have been begging for that funding, along with MAP grants, or the Monetary Award Program, for a while now. The MAP grants help low-income students pay for their tuition and fees.
There are 125,000 students who have been awarded the MAP grants. Even more qualified, but none of them have received their money.
While some senators gave the same old story about how the budget is impacting the students, state Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, turned it around.
He said people should worry about the institutions, too, because they are hurting and they do not want to speak up for themselves.
“You can imagine, during this time of year, when high school seniors are deciding where they want to go to school, they don’t want to hear the president of a perspective university telling them that they’re in financial trouble,” Cunningham said.
He said it is very likely students will chose to go elsewhere and our colleges and universities will have a decreased freshmen enrollment, which could be devastating.
The institutions in Illinois employ thousands of people and if they do not start getting money soon, they may have to make some tough decisions about what level of operating they will be able to uphold.
Essentially, Cunningham described it as a double-whammy. The schools are not getting their money from the state, and students are not getting their money from the state so the schools are without both sets of funding.
The legislation proposed will appropriate the amount needed for the awarded students.
The next scheduled session day in January 27.
The legislation is Illinois Senate Bill 2226.