As college students wrap up the fall semester, there is still a lot of uncertainty for the coming months. Low-income student who rely on the Monetary Award Program to pay for tuition have no guarantee the money will arrive.
Most colleges and universities have been fronting the money for their students – like Northern Illinois University – but even the University of Illinois has warned MAP recipients they may have to repay their grants if the budget impasse drags on through the spring semester.
Steve Stadelman, a Democratic state senator from Rockford, says a measure pending in the Illinois House would approve the funds. He wants lawmakers to consider MAP grants not as a cost but rather as a business investment.
"In the Rockford area, for example, we have a huge issue regarding educational attainment," Stadelman said. "We have below-average number of adults who have college degrees. That makes us less competitive, that makes us less-attractive for businesses staying, and attracting new businesses."
The Senate already passed the measure. The House isn’t scheduled to return to the statehouse until January.
"I look at this as an economic development issue," Stadelman says. "So much of what we're debating down here is about the economy and ways to improve the business climate, right? I think making sure students have access to higher education is an economic development issue."