Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

MAP grants funded for fall term

The Illinois State Government recently passed a bill awarding $600 million to colleges and universities that have been struggling with the recent budget impasse.

With this bill, Augustana will receive enough money to fund Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for the fall term of the 2015-2016 school year.

Augustana students are normally granted $3.2 million total in MAP grant funding.

“We will receive reimbursement from the state, from ISAC, of just over $1 million dollars, based on the fall term,” said Kent Barnds, Augustana’s vice president of enrollment, communication and planning.  “The rest of that still represent a shortfall in revenue.”

According to Augustana’s president, Steve Bahls, the school will take this smaller reimbursement but has been talking to Illinois Student Association Committee (ISAC) to try and receive a larger stipend of money.

Many schools are getting about 50 percent of their MAP funding reimbursed. Augustana, however, is getting reimbursed for roughly a third of their total amount. 

Because of this, there will still need to be measures taken to ensure students who receive MAP grants will be able to remain at Augustana.

“There will still be a combination of things that we will have to do to address the shortfall that is a result of not having MAP fully funded,” said Barnds.  “Those could be anything from cuts to freezes to use of reserves; so there are variety of things that can be done.”

Augustana also will continue to budget under the assumption that MAP grants will no longer be funded at the same level that they were in the 2014-2015 school year.

“Our budget planning, our discussions about the sustainability of Augustana College, clearly will include some changes to our structural budget,” said Barnds.  “It seems unlikely, at least to most observers, that MAP will be fully funded.”

Augustana students have also been very involved in campaigning for MAP Grants.

Two students, junior Lizandra Gomez-Ramirez and sophomore Ryan Jenkins, went to Springfield to rally with other Illinois college students and try to meet with lawmakers in the capital.

“The goal was full funding, but anything helps at this point,” said Gomez-Ramirez, who is a recipient of the MAP Grant.

There were about 1,000 college students at the rally, and all were trying to receive meetings with different lawmakers.

While a meeting with Governor Bruce Rauner was not granted, Gomez-Ramirez and Jenkins managed to get a meeting with Rep. Donald Moffitt (R-Galesburg), who is also an Augustana College graduate. Gomez-Ramirez said that he wasn’t fully in favor of the funding at first but seemed swayed after the discussion.

“We gave him some of the letters and pictures from the MAPMatters campaign that we did in the CSL so he could have a visual representation,” said Gomez-Ramirez.

Moffitt ended up voting in favor of the funding.

David Sommers, president of the Student Government Association, says it’s very important for students to get involved with this issue, whether they receive MAP grants or not.

“I think it does affect everyone in the broader picture, with the simple fact that your best friend may not be able to come here because of the MAP grant.

“I’m from California; I’m not even eligible to receive any MAP funding,” said Sommers.  “(However), I would surely write a letter in support and say, ‘I may not get the funds, but this is something near and dear to my heart, because my best friends receives the funds, and I want to make sure they can continue here.’”

MAPMatters received 404 signatures on a petition they had on campus to send to Springfield.

This is about 16 percent of the total student body.

At Augustana alone, 25 percent of the student body receives MAP funding.

Sommers and Gomez-Ramirez have strong hopes that the student body will get more involved in campaigning.

It also has been made very iapparent that this funding is just for the current academic school year, 2015-2016, and it is unknown how MAP grant funding will impact the budget for the next academic school year, 2016-2017.

“The planning for next year, the only thing we can assume at this moment, is that there won’t be a MAP grant,” said Barnds. “So we need to look at next year’s budget and at least assume for right now that the MAP grant will not be paid.”

President Bahls said that whatever cuts are made will not impact the student experience.

Barnds said that the most important thing students can do is continue to focus on their academics while also actively campaigning for the MAP funding.

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MAP grants funded for fall term