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State Budget Boosts MAP Grant Funding

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Carter Staley/NPR Illinois
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The new state budget will fund Illinois colleges and universities at the level they received in 2015 — minus 10 percent. But there’s one area of higher education that got a boost.  

The Monetary Award Program, known as MAP, provides grants of up to $4,700 to low-income college students.

The two-year budget impasse caused a break in MAP funding, and affected students spoke out about how this interruption threw their lives into chaos. Lawmakers responded by increasing the amount going to MAP scholarships by 10 percent in the new state budget.

Tom Cross, who led House Republicans for more than a decade, now chairs the State Board of Higher Education.

“This was good," he said.  "I applaud the General Assembly for passing this budget with respect to MAP."

But he says that even this increase isn’t enough.

“We could — in terms of the need to take care of all the kids eligible for MAP — we actually need more money,” Cross said.

He hopes this renewed commitment to MAP funding will persuade students to stay in Illinois. The state ranks No. 2 in the nation for out-migration of college students. In fact, Illinois held this ranking long before the budget impasse.

“We’ve got an efficient, streamlined way we run schools now, we’re taking care of our kids with MAP, and we want you Illinois students to stay in Illinois,” Cross said.  “We have great schools.”