Students react to MAP grant veto

Analicia Haynes, Administration Editor

In the wake of an unprecedented budget impasse and the recent veto of the Monetary Award Program grant funding, several students expressed their concerns and fears.

Kalie Musser, a freshman math major and MAP grant recipient, said money was tight for her growing up.

“We didn’t have a lot of money and that was kind of rough,” Musser said. “We would want things and we knew our parents wanted to give them to us but they couldn’t so we went without a lot.”

After her parents divorced, Musser said her mom went back to college, earned her nursing degree and served as a source of inspiration for Musser.

Musser said her mom’s college success showed her the hope she needed to go to college.

She said the MAP grant gave her an opportunity to avoid taking out an incredible amount of money in loans.

However, last Friday Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 2043, which would have appropriated the needed funds for MAP grants.

The state has been without a budget for eight months.

Musser said if the MAP grant is taken away from her, she would have to take out an additional $5,000 in unwanted loans.

“Don’t veto our education,” Musser said. “Not everyone is as fortunate to come from money or to be able to have that opportunity to afford college.”

Paul McCann, the interim vice president for business affairs, said there is no funding at this point for the fall semester for either MAP or the appropriation but just like this year, the university will do everything it can to support the students.

McCann said after students file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, follow the requirements of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for MAP grant eligibility, and see if the state appropriates the money in 2017, then the university can react.

Eastern funded the MAP grants for the Spring 2016 semester by using the university’s cash flow.

McCann said the money Eastern is owed from MAP grants totals between $7 and $9 million and the lack of state funding for the grants have reduced cash flow for the university rather than revenue.

He said the layoffs and furloughs could not have been avoided if the MAP grants were funded.

“Eastern funded the grants because we felt that it was unfair for a student to make a decision to attend school, based upon the award of a grant, and then have the state not fund the grants,” McCann said.

Musser said if the MAP grant is not funded then the ability for students to rise from their low-income class environment is revoked.

“Education gives you the power to make a change and that’s the main reason why I wanted to be a teacher,” Musser said. “I want to make that change.”

Musser said as a Golden Apple Scholar, she and her peers are supposed to teach in a school of need and teach students who come from a low-income background.

“We want to help those in need and provide them with the best possible education so they can aspire to go to college,” Musser said. “Now that they have the want to go to college, they are not going to have the financial ability to be able to accomplish that.”

Kaitlyn Price, a senior accounting major, has had the MAP grant for all her four years of college and said the situation is depressing.

Price said if she did not have her MAP grant she would be in more debt and she cannot imagine students not having the grant available to them in upcoming years.

In high school, Price was involved in multiple extracurricular activities and worked two jobs to get spending money for herself, food, clothes and to keep up with her activities.

“My dad worked two jobs and he paid for the house and other stuff so I paid for myself,” Price said. “I pay attention better when I’m busy.”

Price said the best way to make decent money is to go to college and earn a degree.

“How are we supposed to become better people? How is our future supposed to grow if you’re taking away possibilities for kids who are going to school?” Price asked. “It’s disgusting.”

Nicolette Anderson, a senior accounting major, said if MAP grants are not funded, students will need to work in order to survive.

“I work full-time, I’m a full-time student and I’m the president of the Student Accounting Society,” Anderson said. “If I can make time and still get straight A’s then I don’t think there’s an excuse.”

Anderson said it is possible to survive without the MAP grants but Price said it would be difficult.

“We’d make it happen but the MAP grant is still beneficial,” Price said.

Anderson said free money helps but students do not need it.

McCann said the university will remain open and the administration is dealing with enrollment, achieving efficiencies in operations and reducing costs to the extent necessary to stay open.

“We are using tuition dollars and reserves to fund the University’s operations until we receive the appropriation,” McCann said. “Just the way we have done it for the last several years.”

McCann said the administration believes the governor and legislators will continue to work on finding a solution for higher education and an appropriation will eventually be enacted.

“We will continue to inform the governor and legislators that we need an appropriation,” McCann said. “We will do the things that are necessary to have Eastern thrive in the months and years to come.”


Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]