Daily Egyptian

Budget impasse forcing some students to question future

By Suzanne Baker, Naperville Sun, Ill.

Benedictine University junior Samantha Triani is just two semesters away from completing her business degree in management and organizational behavior.

How she’s going to pay for her final year, however, is uncertain because Illinois Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on a state budget this fiscal year, nor have they started appropriating money for next year.

The Plainfield resident is one of 130,000 college students statewide who receive a grant through the state’s Monetary Award Program. Up to a maximum of $4,720, which does not need to be repaid, was supposed to be awarded through the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to Illinois residents who attend approved Illinois colleges and demonstrate financial need.

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Area schools like Benedictine University in Lisle and North Central College in Naperville, where a third of both schools’ student populations receive some type of MAP grant, have floated students this school year with the understanding that the state will fund the grants once a budget is finally approved.

Students now are questioning if the practice will continue in the next school year or if colleges might force students to cover the floated money if the state doesn’t come through with the full amount.

Appropriations for MAP grants and all state spending are on hold at the moment until the governor and state legislators in Springfield can hash out a budget that was supposed to start July 1.

The Democratic-controlled House on Thursday approved a bill giving the state comptroller the authority to fund social service programs, as well as MAP grants and higher education institutions. The bill, which needs Senate approval, is expected to be vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The move came the day after Democrats tried to override Rauner’s veto of a similar appropriations bill. While the Senate managed enough votes to override Rauner’s action, the effort came up two votes short of the three-fifths needed in the House.

The uncertain state of MAP funding leaves Triani and other college students who receive MAP money worried.

“I am definitely scared for next year. I am thinking about taking out another loan,” said Triani, who is starting to register for the 2016-17 academic year. Her MAP grant helps pay for tuition while she works to cover the costs of room and board.

Approaching her senior year, Triani said dropping out is not an option, nor is attending community college.

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(c) 2016 the Naperville Sun (Naperville, Ill.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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