NORMAL — Students at Illinois State University joined others across the state on Wednesday in calling their legislators to let them know their concerns about funding for higher education and the Monetary Award Program.
The Illinois General Assembly’s fall veto session opened this week in Springfield, and the state budget is high on the agenda. A stopgap measure approved June 30 provided funding to get state government through the end of the calendar year, but the measure did not include funding for this school year for MAP, which provides grants for tuition and fees based on financial need.
ISU senior Daniel Heylin, president of the Student Government Association’s General Assembly, said students at other schools also are organizing “Call Your Legislators” days.
“We just want to make sure that during the veto session, there’s a student voice,” he said.
Heylin, a history and social sciences education major from Chicago, also is chairman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Student Advisory Committee.
Three laptop computers were set up in the Founders Suite at the Bone Student Center so students could look up the phone numbers of their state senators and representatives. Students used their own phones to make the calls.
About 75 students took part, according to Heylin.
For those who wanted to use it, there was a script with talking points on the importance of higher education and MAP funding.
Richard Greenfield, secretary of governmental relations for the SGA, said organizers hope when legislators “see their constituents are demanding action, it might change their hearts.”
Among those who made calls was freshman Logan Robb, a music education major from McLean.
Robb said he has a friend who couldn’t afford to attend college without a MAP grant.
Student Body President Kyle Walsh said he doesn’t have high hopes that a solution will be worked out during the veto session, but “we have to continue trying.”
Heylin said there has to be some kind of compromise.
“Each has to give a little bit,” said Heylin. “It has to be a win-win for everyone.”
Nearly 20 percent of students at ISU receive MAP grants. The university has agreed to credit students who were awarded the grants in hopes that the state eventually will provide funding for those grants, as it did last academic year.
If no MAP funding comes through, ISU could be on the hook for about $15 million.
Because of the uncertainty, some schools are only covering a portion of each student’s MAP grant or covered fall semester but are taking a “wait-and-see” approach for spring.