Editorial: MAP grants provide necessary route to college for students in need

It’s hard to describe how important the Monetary Award Program grants are to Illinois students in need.

MAP grants give much needed financial support to some of the neediest students in Illinois. They don’t cover all of the costs involved with tuition and fees, but they ease the stress and burden placed on students.EJ

At most, a student in Illinois can receive $4,968 a school year, or $2,484 a semester. Without that grant, the money those students have available would have to come out of loans or out of that student’s pocket.(https://www.isac.org/students/during-college/types-of-financial-aid/grants/monetary-award-program/)EJ

There are over 125,000 students relying on MAP grants in Illinois.EJ

However, thanks to the immaturity and stubbornness of our legislators, that financial support and the education of those students is now in danger.

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A mass mail was sent out to MAP eligible students last week telling them if the University doesn’t get funding for the MAP grants from the state when the budget is finalized, students will have to refund the amount of their MAP grant for the spring semester to the University.EJ

For students who receive MAP grants, the consequences of this could be devastating. They will have two choices: Pay up or drop out.

But the reason why students who get MAP grants get them is because they can’t pay up. They have MAP grants because both them and their families are incapable of paying for school on their own.

If the state fails to give proper funds for MAP grants, they are failing the students who could help this state the most.

Not only are they asking already struggling students to come up with thousands of dollars, they are going back on a promise.

When MAP students anxiously opened their award letter from their university last spring, they knew that it held their fate for the next year. If there was enough aid, they could continue their education, if there was not, it was time to find a plan B.

So when they were promised MAP grants, the money figured into the perfectly orchestrated and delicate balance of a poor student’s budget.

Now the MAP grant puzzle piece is being taken away, and the state is asking them to fill the gap.

Keep in mind that students weren’t warned that they may have to pay back MAP grants when they accepted them. These were not meant to function as temporary loans.

A member of The Daily Illini’s Editorial Board depends on a MAP grant. She has been working every day since age 15, works while going to school, pinches pennies and manages to still get good grades.

But if the state doesn’t pass a budget that takes her and other students like her into consideration, she won’t be back next semester — on the editorial board or on our campus.

They are students studying English, engineering, medicine and education. They are the students of Illinois studying here because they want to make their home state better.

But now their home state isn’t going to let that be a possibility.