Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

Campus calls on state to fund MAP

The Monetary Awards Program (MAP) of Illinois has been halted for quite some time now.
An ongoing battle, being fought between Governor Rauner and the state-level government of Illinois, has been causing stress for the entire state. Since the Governor and the General Assembly have refused to cooperate, they haven’t been able to pass a state budget.
This problem began almost 10 months ago, with members of the government refusing to budge. Since then, the state has quickly been racking up debt to prevent disaster, trying to cover what the government would normally pay for. Those who aren’t being helped right now are carrying the weight of their government’s failure.
Most recently, according to the Associated Press, Illinois office-holders are going without pay for weeks at a time, in an effort to stop paying a government that isn’t woking for the state.
In regards to Augustana, the budget impasse is causing disaster. According to President Bahls’ speech to the SGA on March 31, nearly a fourth of students at Augustana rely on the MAP for help paying college, many could not attend without it. Augustana, however doesn’t intend to put the burden on their students.
“Illinois has financial problems, but it is shameful to balance the budget on the backs of college students and those seeking social services,” charged President Bahls.
In the past weeks, Augustana has sent out emails reminding students that the college would cover the cost of the MAP for those who were guaranteed it, and even for those prospective students who are struggling to plan their future while Illinois’ government struggles.
For the college to support this plan, it is beginning to make changes to finances. According to Bahls, the college will be losing about 4.5% of its budget to compensate. This means that building plans are being postponed, increased fundraising efforts, cuts in pay for the higher-paid faculty, and “exploring advanced sources of revenue.”
Meanwhile, Augustana college has been digging into its reserves.
“​I am proud that the Augustana Board of Trustees has decided to carry our students who may be losing their MAP grants,” said Bahls. “And I am proud of our alumni, who have stepped forward to provide financial aid funds.  They are all demonstrating their deep commitment to students.”
Students of Augustana are showing their commitment to the matter as well. According to David Sommers, President of the Student Government Association, the SGA will also be delivering an official statement on the MAP.
“I personally agree and support President Bahls’ decision to continue to fund our students who now no longer may receive the MAP grant,”  commented Sommers, who, along with the SGA, has been in contact with the faculty and are working to keep Augustana undamaged during the state budget impasse.
Many students are staying informed and involved in the conflict. Recently, a table has been in the brew in support of the #MapMatters movement.
Many students have been starting petitions and sending letters to the government in protest of what they see as a failure.
MAPMatters, managed on campus by Karina Huerta and the Office of Multicultural student life, has about 404 signatures- which she is still collecting.
“It’s sad we take for granted- that we let the administration do all this work for us… legislators are tired of hearing from administrators.” said Huerta. She worried that, although the MAP mattered to everyone, not everyone was paying attention.
“Being at the brew was hard,” explained Huerta. Regardless of the many signatures they did collect, Huerta still sees this as something the entire school should be behind. “My goal was to reach all of campus. 404 is a pretty good number, but I wanted it to be an Augie movement.”
Huerta had made clear that although the MAP seems to only threaten students who rely on it, because Augustana and its students are dependent on one another, everyone is likely to feel the effects.
“I really want to thank everyone who came out to sign the petition while we were at the brew, and thank our volunteers who sat at the brew and collect signatures,” Huerta shared.
Huerta is still sending letters, which have templates that are being filled, as well as collecting signatures to get the attention of the government of Illinois.
In the meantime, between passing a state budget and now, Augustana is still working hard.
Kai Swanson and five students will be traveling to Springfield on April 20th, to try and get legislative attention. According to Swanson, there will be a large rally at noon, and students will get the chance to meet legislators one-on-one.
The message from everyone on campus is the same; the state budget impasse, and suspension of the MAP is hurting everyone.

“It is not too late to contact your Illinois elected officials,” reminded President Bahls. “Demand that the finger pointing stop and that all political leaders stay in Springfield until a compromise is found to save MAP​.”
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Campus calls on state to fund MAP