Students rally for MAP Grants at Capitol
February 17, 2017
Last Wednesday, seven Monmouth students and an advisor traveled the two hours to Springfield to support the state funding of MAP grants. The students attended the rally as members of the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education. Since Republican Governor Bruce Rauner took office in January of 2015, the funding of MAP grants has been a point of contention between the Democrats and Republicans in the State House through the State Budget.
As arguments continue over the state budget between the Republican governor and Democrats in the Senate, MAP grants have not been at their full funding levels. Unlike other state and federal loans, the Monetary Award Program (MAP) is different due to the fact that Illinois students who demonstrate the need for financial assistance through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) do not have to repay after using the grants.
From across the state, colleges and universities sent students to the rally to support the grants and the importance of continuing the program. In total, nearly 200 students were at the rally in the Illinois Capitol rotunda.
While at the Capitol, Monmouth students lobbied lawmakers from the area as well as attended the rally. Although State Senator Jil Tracy refused to meet with the students due to her schedule, State Representative Randy Frese met with them.
However, some students did not feel as though they were heard. According to Sophomore Carlin Reinig, Frese “avoided all difficult conversations, instead focusing on questions about our personal lives and appeals to emotion. When pressed about what he was doing in order to understand the position he was putting his less-affluent constituents in, he merely laughed and said that he understood the cost of college by putting his daughters through school.” When asked about his reaction to their meeting with Frese, Reinig reported that he feels that “Randy Frese does not care about his constituents, he is there for the power or prestige.”
Although Rauner spoke in front of lawmakers this past Wednesday for his third annual budget address, it is unclear of when a budget will be passed in Springfield.