A temporary state budget refunded Loyola $10 million that the university paid to cover Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for students in the 2015-16 school year, but money has yet to be allocated for MAP grants for the upcoming academic year.
MAP grants provide funds to Illinois residents who attend college in state. The Illinois State Assistance Commission administers these state-funded grants, and the funds do not need to be paid back to the state.
About 2,400 Loyola students are receiving MAP grants this year, about 3 percent of whom are Arrupe College students, according to Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Robert Munson.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a temporary budget on June 30 that included refunding Illinois colleges and universities for funds owed in the 2015-16 school year for scholarships such as MAP. The budget set aside $1 billion for higher education and the temporary budget will increase Illinois’ backlog to almost $10 billion.
The university covered the cost of MAP grants for students last year and was completely reimbursed this summer, according to Munson.
Illinois colleges and universities were offered the option of getting reimbursed for MAP grants owed for the previous year or setting aside the funds for next year, according to Loyola’s Vice President for Government Affairs Philip Hale.
“Last June, we followed [the budget] closely and at one point we were consulted along with other schools, asking to have MAP 2015-16 covered or have the funds automatically included in next year’s budget,” said Hale. “Everyone agreed to fund MAP retroactively for the previous year. So, MAP was fully funded last year and it set precedent for next year.”
Munson said he believes the grants will be funded by the state in the future, but there is no guarantee. As a result, the university is taking precautions to control its spending.
“As for budget reductions, vice presidents and deans have been advised to limit spending all around to have more controlled costs,” said Munson. “For example, I asked my staff to limit travel and professional development conferences. This current year, we are trying to be conservative by managing budgets, but we do believe that the state will fund the grants again.”
Since it’s an election year, the Illinois General Assembly will not meet until November, meaning the next budget and the future of MAP grants will not be discussed until then, at the earliest. Hale said he believes advocacy is key and wants to work with students this semester so they are prepared to advocate for MAP when the time comes.
“We want to host a summit sometime — maybe in October — at the Water Tower Campus, made up of students, myself with my colleagues and legislators to discuss how to advocate and work together for the best outcome,” he said. “There are areas to improve, such as getting students to come to Springfield; nothing matters more than having a student who receives MAP to personally explain why MAP matters to them in Springfield.”
MAP grants are also important to Arrupe students, as a majority of them rely on MAP grants to attend college. Hale said Arrupe is important to the university, which is making its support of Arrupe a priority.
“Arrupe is a central mission to Loyola, and we have been having fruitful discussions on the second year of Arrupe and how students will graduate for the first time in the fall and continue on to a four-year university, hopefully Loyola, and we want to help with that transition,” Hale said. “Arrupe has a bright future and it is a priority of ours to fight for them through advocacy.”
Senior Maria Solis said she was happy to find out that a temporary budget was passed and that education was a key concern.
“I’m glad to hear that there will be some financial support for this upcoming school year,” said the secondary education and English double major. “I know that the fight is not over, but I’m glad that for now I won’t have to worry about my financial aid. Hopefully, Illinois politicians keep on working together and keep education a priority.”