While some students are getting ready to register for the upcoming semester, others are worrying about how they will continue to afford college without Illinois Monetary Award Program grants.
Among the students concerned about their college funds is sophomore music major Noel Price.
“It’s very important for me—as long as I’m attending college—that I do get money to be here and further my education,” Price said.
The state has yet to fund MAP grants for fiscal year 2017, as reported May 2 by The Chronicle. In response, the Fund Our Future coalition, a group made up of university professional and other higher education workers, launched the MAP Postcard Campaign Sept. 1. The campaign encourages Illinois residents to fill out two postcards to their state senators and representatives urging them to fund MAP grants.
Oscar Valdez, an academic scheduling coordinator in the Humanities, History & Social Sciences Department and membership chair for United Staff of Columbia College, said he brought the campaign to Columbia Oct. 24–31 after seeing how lack of state funding affects students.
In an FOF press release sent to The Chronicle by Everlidys Cabrera, assistant to the chair for the Music Department and US of CC member, the group noted more than 130,000 students rely on MAP grants. The number of grants awarded has been reduced substantially, with only 105,000 receiving awards for fiscal year 2016 compared with 128,000 in fiscal year 2015.
Starting Oct. 24, US of CC set up tables at the Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Ave.; the 624 S. Michigan Ave. Building; Alexandroff Campus Center, 600 S. Michigan Ave. and the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building, where people signed postcards.
A wrap-up event will be held Oct. 31 at 12 p.m. on the 10th floor of the 624 S. Michigan Ave. Building, Valdez said.
Working with City Colleges of Chicago and Roosevelt University, Valdez said they hope to get about 2,000 postcards signed.
Cabrera said the goal is getting postcards sent to legislators by Nov. 11.and the Illinois Education Association by Nov. 4.
She added that even those not affected by lack of state funding should still get involved on behalf of those who are.
Fin Malone, a freshman music major who filled out a postcard, said he participated to support his fellow classmates.
“I know that there are certain people who probably would benefit from [MAP grants],” Malone said. “[They] rely on that program for paying [or] help paying for college.”
Cynthia Grunden, assistant vice president of Student Financial Services, said US of CC organizing this campaign shows their deep concern for students.
“We need students to participate in every opportunity they have to advocate for this [MAP grant] program,” Grunden said. “Students and their families are taxpayers in Illinois, and our legislature and our governor are accountable to taxpayers. This is affecting students in a terrible way.”
Price said that without state funding, she would not be able to attend Columbia.
“[It’s important] we put money into our kids [and] into people who really do want to take that extra step so they can be successful adults. I’m one of those people,” Price said. “It’s fair, not only to myself, but to the rest of the community that I can do that.”