GALESBURG — Local colleges are collecting their MAP grant funding for the 2016-2017 school year via the new state budget, allowing them to funnel their resources elsewhere.
In total, Knox College has received a little more than $1.5 million in MAP funding to cover 334 students. Carl Sandburg College received $580,000 for 483 students, and the school expects to collect more to cover another 55 students, for a total of slightly over $600,000 in MAP funding.
Though the funds could have come earlier considering the schools are now planning for the next school year, it’s better late than never for MAP recipients. Lisa Hanson, director of financial aid for Carl Sandburg, said many of Sandburg’s MAP students borrowed money from family or friends or assumed excessive debt to make up for the delayed funding, which they’ll now be able to pay back.
“I have two students who work in our office and one will be going to ISU next year, and it was a real help for her because it’ll allow her to make a deposit for housing,” Hanson said. “My other student worker, she’ll be getting MAP funds, and she’s had to scramble for transportation. This’ll allow her to put money back into her car.”
The funding will relieve the burden on administrations as well. Knox would have used money from its endowment to cover funding for MAP students had the state not passed a budget. Now the administration does not need to dip into that resource and the endowment can continue to grow for other purposes, said Karrie Heartlein, director of government and community affairs for Knox.
Monmouth College had also planned to cover funding for its MAP students if needed. The college just received $1.7 million in MAP funding on Thursday and hopes to collect the remaining funds soon, for a total of $2.2 million to cover 540 students.
The college can now look at all the funding requests it received from various departments and address ones that had been put on hold during the budget crisis. Those could range from new equipment for labs, more resources for the library or even new study abroad programs, said Duane Bonifer, executive director of communications and marketing for the college.
“People would say at meetings, ‘that’s something to talk about when the state of Illinois gets its act together,’” Bonifer said. “Campus-wide, everyone was sort of ‘in’; you didn’t have one group of people or one department saying, ‘we’ve had enough, we need to have our needs fulfilled right now.’ I think it’s just a great testament to the community and the family atmosphere of this place. Everyone pulled together and I think everyone did a real nice job.”
While Sandburg would not have been able to cover MAP grant funds, it planned its 2017-2018 budget without expecting to receive any state funds. Now that the funds have come in, Hanson expected the school would put state money back into its accounts to replenish what the college used to help cover expenses during the budget crisis.
The three schools have also been tracking the activity of the state government and preparing for the future, in the event that the legislative history of the past two years repeats itself. Hanson said Sandburg has been looking “very closely” at its expenses and making sure the college can cover them with minimal assistance from the state.
Heartlein did not know how deep the Knox administration’s conversations had been regarding independence from state funding, but she thought it was concerning that the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Rauner could not agree on a budget year after year.
“You get into dangerous waters when you have to start building contingency plans because the state of Illinois is not honoring its promises,” Heartlein said. “I think it’s something we all have to think about very seriously.”
Monmouth is in the process of restructuring its budget model and income strategy so it can be fiscally independent from all types of government funds. The college hopes to grow its endowment so that one day, state and federal money will be “extras” and not financing students’ education, Bonifer said. The plan seems off to a positive start, as the college received a $20 million endowment commitment from an anonymous donor in April.
Bonifer said many colleges across the nation have been looking at how they can become financially solvent without much government aid, but the situation seemed to amplify in Illinois with the state budget crisis.
“We think the horizon might look good now, but the dark clouds are going to reappear and we’re going to have more problems in the future,” Bonifer said. “We want to control our destiny and our future, and the way to do that is to be as fiscally independent as possible. If anything, I think the last couple of years have been a wake-up call on that.”
Rebecca Susmarski: (309) 343-7181, ext. 261; firstname.lastname@example.org; @RSusmarski
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July 23, 2017 at 08:01AM