Students fight for MAP Grant

By Dana Bitto

February 27, 2013

Dominican students plan to rally in Springfield to ensure that the state gives them the money they need for school.

The state’s Monetary Assistance Program has been frequently threatened with cuts over the past several years.

According to published reports, last year only about half of the students who qualified for grants were able to receive them. After the money was gone, there were still about 145,000 eligible students who were not able to receive grants.

At Dominican University, there are currently 932 students who receive financial aid from the MAP Grant. Senior and Student Government Association President Marco Rodriguez understands the importance of the MAP Grant and how detrimental it can be for students to afford students without it.

“I lost my MAP Grant this year, and I know how hard it can be to pay for college without the financial aid that MAP Grants provide,” Rodriguez said. “I had to seek other scholarship opportunities to pay for tuition. Other students may find themselves in a similar situation, which is why it is so important to fill out the FAFSA application as early as possible to ensure that students get the most financial aid possible.”

Each spring, Illinois college students travel to Springfield to rally these potential cuts.

“Paying for college is already hard, and we can’t allow any further cuts that will stop us from achieving our academic goals,” Rodriguez explained. “The rally provides a chance for college students to make some noise and tell our state representatives how much we value our education. This year, we are taking about fifteen students to the rally—some new, some experienced—who will represent Dominican.”

Senior and president of First in The Family, Edgar Nieto, found his participation in the rally to be one of the highlights of his college career.

“My freshman year there was a group of around 10 students that went down to Springfield for the rally on MAP Grant funding,” he said. “We heard lobbyists talk about how important student financial aid funding is for students across the state and nation. Governor Patt Quinn was also at the rally and I was able to meet him.”

Nieto also plans on attending this year’s rally with other members of First in the Family, a campus organization dedicated to serve as a resource for students who are first-generation college students.

“Funding through the federal and state government are crucial to students across the nation and are essential to the students who get these grants,” he explained. “This year, First in the Family wants to promote this event to the broader DU community to get a strong voice of students to attend the student lobby day held on Wednesday March 13.”

Faculty and staff at Dominican have also shared their feelings against MAP Grant cuts.

“Students need access to aid from the State of Illinois, and cutting the funds available to the MAP Grant directly impacts students’ ability to attend college,” Norah Collins, associate dean of students and SGA advisor, said.

Assistant Professor of Political Science David Dolence, who has attended several MAP Grant rallies in the past, continued the case against MAP Grant cuts.

“The MAP Grant assistance impacts a great number of DU students,” Dolence explained. “Any reduction is going to impact individual students and the university as a whole. The state of Illinois is being abysmally mismanaged and, quite frankly, every citizen in Illinois is being punished, not just students. Because of that reality, the attempts to build MAP from a few years ago have turned into just trying to save it as a program now.”

“I think that education is one of the most important things that the government should be concerned with,” freshman Dahlia Mijarez said. “Constant cuts to grants contribute to the idea that college is becoming more unattainable. Without these funds, students will find it harder to pay for college.”