Senate pushes to fund promised student college grants

mapgrant money

SPRINGFIELD – Today the Illinois Senate passed a plan to fully cover all promised MAP grants for low-income students. Fully funding these grants would keep thousands of low-income students in Illinois college.

"We cannot expect our college students to fully perform on partial state funding," said Trotter (D-Chicago), chairman of the Senate Appropriations II Committee and co-sponsor of the bill. "We are giving MAP grant recipients an additional $227 million, which is long overdue."

If signed into law, House Bill 4167 would provide more than $227 million in funding for state-funded college scholarships.

The Illinois Senate previously passed Trotter’s Senate Bill 2059, which partially funded MAP grants and public universities.

Majority Caucus Whip Mattie Hunter also supported both measures.

"Fully covering promised MAP grants will give low-income students the same opportunities as their peers," said Hunter (D-Chicago). "This lifeline directly helps our students, universities and communities by fueling our state's economic engine."

Senator Bill Cunningham joined colleagues in the Illinois Senate in support of House Bill 4167. This comes at a time when many universities and community colleges fronted the students who were waiting for their MAP funds.

“The state needs to keep its promise to the neediest of students. We partially funded MAP but we all agreed that was not enough,” Cunningham said. “This is our step in saying we are going to keep our promise. I hope the governor shares the General Assembly’s priority in keeping our promises to our students.”

“Last week I was at the commencements of Joliet Junior College and Governors State University. Both schools have many students awaiting the full amount of need-based financial aid the state promised them,” said Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet), chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Passage of HB 4167 gets us two-thirds of the way toward keeping our word to these students. The governor now has the opportunity to take the final step.”

Without a proper higher education budget in place, colleges and universities fronted MAP money to students during the first semester. But a number of schools indicated that they couldn’t continue doing so for the second semester, leaving students to choose whether to go deeper into debt with more student loans or quit school altogether.

“Making almost 130,000 needy college students uncertain if they can continue their education makes Illinois’ future uncertain,” McGuire said. “Let’s wise up, support hard work and ambition, and fully fund MAP grants.”

“I hope we can finally lay this issue to rest," Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) said. "We have been fighting for this funding for too long. Universities like Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, and the students who attend it, need state funding. This is our future and we must invest in it. I urge the governor to act quickly and sign this measure.”

“This is about prioritizing our college students who needed this assistance and keeping our promise to them,” Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) said. “I urge the governor to join us in keeping our promises to our students and universities.”

The legislation would allow the governor to ensure students who were promised MAP grants are allowed to keep them. Passed by the House earlier this week, the measure now goes to the governor's office.