Gov. Pat Quinn is pushing to restore funding for Monetary Award Program grants, which thousands of low-income college students in Chicago rely on every year.
About 30,000 college students in the Chicago area received $130 million from the grants last year, a form of need-based financial aid that helps many pay their tuition bills.
But after the legislature produced a doomsday budget in May, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission voted last month to hand out less than half of the grants it had in years past, suspending the program entirely come January.
Without an increase in state funding, students expecting to get $4,000 for the coming year would see only about $1,600 in grant money, all of it during the fall term. Students said they would have to take on extra jobs during the school year or even transfer elsewhere if they didn't get the grant money.
Yesterday, Quinn said he hoped the MAP grant program would get more funding out of the state budget.
“We want to get more money for that and we have a plan to do that,” Quinn said. “That’s what the vote will be, to get more financing for our human services, including education.”
He did not say what his plan entailed. Paul Palian, a spokesman for the student assistance commission, says it is keeping a close eye on budget negotiations.
“We have behind-the-scenes people working with members of the General Assembly and the governor’s office on a weekly, if not daily basis,” Palian says.
He took the news that Quinn wanted to restore the MAP grant funding as a positive sign, though he says many people are waiting to see what the legislature produces.
“We’ve enjoyed broad support, not only from the Governor’s office but from the General Assembly, Republicans and Democrats alike,” Palian says.
Daily News Staff Writer Peter Sachs covers higher education. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 18, or peter [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.