|Funding for 3,500 ISU students cut for spring|
|Written by Sakura Robles, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 26 August 2009 20:01|
A new state budget proposal is cutting Illinois agencies’ funding to universities by 50 percent, including the Illinois Student Assistant Commission [ISAC], which controls the Monetary Award Program.
The MAP grant is a state gift aid which does not need to be paid back and has been given to students who display financial need. Approximately 155,000 students across the state receive MAP funding, 3,500 being ISU students, and the average amount received by each student per year is $2,600.
According to the new budget, the MAP grant will now only be funded through the fall semester and the deadline to apply is being moved up from August 15th to May 15th.
"Overall, I am very optimistic about it," Student Government Association President Matt Spialek said. "It is unfortunate they are cutting part of the MAP grant when the demand for student assistance is up 30 percent."
As a result of the budget cut, the SGA is working with the financial aid office to create sample letters that students can access online from the SGA Web site. The letter is accessible for students to send to their legislators convincing them to fully fund the MAP grants for the spring semester.
"If you are personally affected, we would like you [students] to add a personal aspect to the letter," Spialek said. "Whether they are affected or not, students should care about this because financial burden should not prevent someone from being able to gain an education if you are willing to work hard."
SGA is also planning a Lobby Day in October, in which Illinois college students can go to Springfield together and approach the state representatives as a collective community.
"I have been in contact with all the student body presidents all over the state, encouraging them to come to the lobby day with us," Spialek said. "We want it to be an Illinois student lobby day movement. This is an issue that not only affects ISU students but over 150,000 students all across the state."
Currently on board for the statewide Lobby Day movement are Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and Western Illinois University.
Assistant to the President Jay Groves expresses his support towards ISU students in the upcoming movement.
"One of the core values of this university is engagement, and this is civic engagement," Groves said. "I think ISU students are very passionate. President Bowman and I are impressed with the involvement and passion of students all around campus. I know the students will show their passion on this issue."
Spialek is also currently working with an ISAC student commissioner as a resource for more information on their budget that has been cut by the state. He also wants to spread the word to students about how important the student voice is.
"I think the state leaders will definitely hear the student voice. This [Lobby Day] is a prime opportunity to show our leaders in Springfield that our generation is not apathetic," Spialek said. "I think it is important for students to realize they have a voice and take a stake in their education.
"I am really proud of this because Illinois State University’s student body and government is leading the cause on the monetary work program cuts."
SGA Secretary of Governmental Relations Scott Preston also believes this issue goes beyond budget cuts and thinks student involvement is most important.
"There is strength in numbers and because this affects so many of us, we have legitimate opportunity to speak up and speak out in support of full MAP grant funding," Preston said.
"We, hands-down, have the potential to change this state-wide if only we channel our efforts together to make a difference... This is a big deal that stretches even beyond our campus and yet is something we can collectively work to improve in Illinois."
Students can receive more information on the MAP grant, letter to your legislator or upcoming Lobby Day by contacting the ISU Financial Aid Office or logging online to the SGA Web site.