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Aid restored to low-income Ill. college students

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation to restore financial aid to nearly 140,000 low-income college students.

Lawmakers drastically cut funding in July for the state’s Monetary Award Program, also known as MAP grants, leaving many students without funding for the second semester of the 09-10 academic year.

According to a press statement from Quinn’s office, 138,000 MAP grant recipients would have collected 50 percent of their awarded money and 130,000 students who applied after the May 15 deadline would not have received any money if the grant program was not restored.

Quinn signed the legislation Sunday. He said he hopes to work with legislators to find revenue to better support the program in the future.

“I salute the General Assembly for their swift response to what could have been a serious setback to students across the state who rely on MAP funding for their education,” Quinn said in a press release. “I look forward to continuing to work with the legislature to find revenue to support this critical program.”

Quinn traveled to Bradley University, Black Hawk Community College, John Wood Community College, University of Illinois at Champaign, SIU Carbondale, SIU Edwardsville, Northern Illinois University, University of Illinois at Chicago and the Illinois Education Association Center in Springfield to lobby for restoration of the MAP grants.

Quinn has been lobbying to restore the funding while receiving criticism from his Democratic primary challenger, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes. Hynes said Quinn signed off on the cuts to the program in the first place before passing the buck onto legislators.

“Pat Quinn may be satisfied enough to pat himself on the back and hold a press conference touting as yet undetermined funding for MAP grants, but the students and families who rely on the program in order to afford college deserve real answers and a real plan,” Hynes said.

Hynes said Quinn had the ability to fund the program through discretionary funding.

Associated Press and Daily Illini reports

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