Colleges and universities throughout Illinois, including Loyola, are working diligently to advocate for Monetary Award Program (MAP) funding for the 2016-17 school year. On Oct. 29, Loyola hosted an advocacy summit for education on MAP funding. More than 100 people, including students, staff and professors from more than 35 institutions, attended the summit.
MAP is distributed to Illinois residents who attend college in-state and is the largest need-based grant program administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), according to the ISAC 2015 data book. In February, Gov. Bruce Rauner cut funding for MAP grants and left colleges and universities to pick up the tab or have the students pay back the money.
A temporary budget passed by Gov. Rauner in June reimbursed Loyola for covering the cost of MAP grants for the 2015-2016 school year, The Phoenix previously reported. But it’s still unclear how the MAP grants for the 2016-2017 school year will be funded, because the state of Illinois has yet to pass a budget.
Philip Hale, the vice president for government affairs at Loyola, stated the university will cover the costs of MAP grants for this school year but expressed the importance of state funding.
“A $10 million hit would not be without consequences,” Hale said. “We’re pledged to cover the grants this year, but we have got to get that reimbursement. That’s why the advocacy is so important.”
The summit at Loyola included workshops led by student leaders and faculty from Illinois colleges and universities. The program offered tools for advocating for MAP funding on their campuses and advocating to state legislators.
Junior Adam Roberts, vice president of student government at Loyola (SGLC), led a workshop on conveying the importance of MAP through video. Roberts is not a MAP recipient, but he said he understands the importance of the grant for the Loyola community.
“One of the major things the student government is charged with is being an advocate and ally for all students, on any issue that directly impacts the student experience,” said the communication studies and sociology double major. “MAP grants directly impact the Loyola experience by providing [financial aid for] diverse individuals who really are the beauty, the life blood of our Loyola community.”
The summit also included a panel of state representatives. In attendance were State Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th District), State Rep. Robert W. Pritchard (R-70th District) and Illinois Secretary of Education Dr. Elizabeth Purvis.
Pritchard, who is a member of the Appropriations-Higher Education Committee, said the discussion for MAP funding will not be in focus until after the election on Nov. 8. The main problem that needs to be discussed by the Illinois Legislature is how the state will find the money for MAP funding. Pritchard also stressed the importance of building relationships with legislators to fight for MAP funding.
Hosting the summit is only the start of Loyola’s latest efforts to advocate for MAP funding. SGLC is working on several initiatives in which students can participate throughout the rest of the fall semester.
Students are encouraged by SGLC to create videos telling their own stories about why the MAP grant is important to them. During the week of Nov. 14, students will be asked to email and tweet their videos to their state senators and state representatives. In December, students will have the chance to participate in a statewide holiday card campaign to express their desire for MAP grants. Students who are interested in helping organize these initiatives or have any questions can contact Hale at email@example.com.
For the 2016-17 school year, about 2,400 students received MAP grants that make up a total of $10.3 million, according to Loyola’s website. Included in the number of MAP recipients are about 70 Arrupe College students, who accounted for about $350,000 in grants this year.
First-year Arrupe College student Oyuki Aguilar, who has one-third of her tuition covered by MAP grants, said she thinks the summit was a step in the right direction toward educating people about MAP.
“People know that it matters because it’s part of financial aid, but they don’t know if they qualify, and because a lot of Arrupe students are undocumented, they’re not aware that it also might affect them,” the social and behavioral sciences major said.
Oyuki said losing the funding would create a domino effect that would impact most people at Loyola.
“Having allies that don’t get the MAP grant would show that this matters not only to people who get the MAP grant, but [also] our community,” she said. “It would affect our faculty and staff … not only people who receive the grant.”
Loyola plans to send students to the state capitol in Springfield for a MAP rally in January.
“In January, what’s really going to be important is having folks show up in Springfield,” said Roberts, 20. “Student government will be working with the university to make sure that we can get students there that are active, that can tell their stories and who can be allies if they don’t [currently] receive the grant.”