By Justin Provo, Staff Reporter
Photo by Lauren Grimaldi
Monetary Assistance Program funds were made available again this year to students made possible, thanks to eleventh-hour efforts by campus administration.
Earlier this year, administrators chose not to privately fund MAP grants for the 2016-2017 year. Then two weeks before the current semester started, faculty and staff learned administrators changed their minds, with the university covering unfunded MAP grants. Within days, students were notified of the move through a community email.
“Last spring when we said ‘no’ it was mainly because, one, we can’t afford it… and, two, DePaul was the only one that was funding it from their large endowment. … Most of our other competitors didn’t say, ‘Yes, we’re going to fund it,’” said University President Ali Malekzadeh.
According to Malekzadeh, as the school year approached competitors decided to fund MAP grants. Letters were sent to MAP recipients asking them to find additional loans to take the place of the MAP grant but Malekzadeh said “…the burden was just way too much for the students.”
Drew Wilson, a sophomore who used to live on-campus last year, is one of the affected students.
“I honestly wasn’t entirely sure that I was going to end up paying for school. Fortunately I got a work study and I worked over the summer to earn some extra cash,” Wilson said. “I was pretty worried that I would have to take up two jobs, actually, to try and ensure that I would be able to pay for school.”
Given the state’s stopgap budget only covering about 30 percent of MAP funding from last year, Vice President of Enrollment Management Paul McGuinness explained what students could expect: “What we did was we based the calculation off of last year’s [funding].”
Last year, MAP grants were fully funded by Roosevelt.
“We’ll be incredibly transparent. We’ll talk about everything,” McGuinness said, “We just want to make sure that students have every opportunity…to pay their bills and to graduate.”
Wilson said that receiving the MAP grant will help reduce his monthly payment plan.
“Not being able to live on campus definitely affects me as a student. It’s hard to enjoy the university when you’re not here,” Wilson said, given his long schedule and increased transit time to and from the suburbs.
Malekzadeh said administrators “will do whatever we can to continue funding this,” with the hope that the state’s financial situation will eventually improve enough to resume MAP funding.
Last year, more than 1,000 students benefitted from MAP grants, Malekzadeh noted. “This fall, at least 600 to 700 students will be on MAP,” he said. “My guess is that yes, we did lose some students because of [the problems with funding] MAP.”