By Daly Tongren
Each year, Monetary Award Program grants are awarded to Illinois college students to help cut down on the costs of higher education.
The need-based program, while vital to the students that it does indeed aid, is stretched too thin across the state and leaves many eligible students without an opportunity to take advantage of its funds.
The MAP Grant has been a topic of concern for many Roosevelt University students, and the Student Government Association has spent years raising awareness throughout the student body through its lobbying efforts in Springfield.
Each spring, the SGA and other Roosevelt students make a trip to the state’s capital, where they meet with state representatives individually and discuss the importance of continued funding of MAP in the field of higher education, where prices continue to rise.
“Lobbying for the grant is vital. Legislators have so many issues to contend with that they need to be reminded of the desperate need to not only keep MAP funded at current levels, but find ways to increase funding,” said LeAnn Revis, a MAP recipient and social justice major.
This spring will be the first in years that the SGA is unable to attend Lobby Day, which is a statewide practice of sending currently enrolled MAP recipients and other students to Springfield in order to share their testimonies and speak to the power of the grant in their educational careers.
The state budget fluctuates regularly, and over the years there have been significant cuts made to the MAP program, which, according to its records, has been active for 50 years.
Under Gov. Bruce Rauner’s current proposed budget plan, funding for MAP will remain fairly steady during the upcoming fiscal year. However, the plan has not yet been agreed upon, and the funding to higher education could end up facing further cuts.
“This is why it is imperative that the decision makers in Springfield be reminded of not only what a good value the MAP Grant program is for the state of Illinois, but also how vital it is for economically disadvantaged students,” Revis said.
Phil Crawford, who was recently elected the SGA president for the upcoming academic year, said that the scheduling and conflicts surrounding this year’s missed Lobby Day will not happen again.
“I hope to work next year to promote student government as a tool the students can use to fix problems, like knowledge about MAP and other additional potential tuition funding around campus,” Crawford said.
While not a MAP recipient himself, Crawford, who is originally a resident of Missouri, said that lobbying for the grant is an essential and accepted responsibility of the SGA.
“MAP matters simply because many students must leave college with a huge amount of debt, and any program that can alleviate that burden is important,” Crawford said. “As for the role of SGA, I think that anything we do which truly advocates on the part of the students is a significant part of our work.”