mapgrant moneyFor Jonathan Bello, a college education offers a step up the socio-economic ladder and path out of the gang neighborhoods he grew up in on the South Side.

For Trisha Rodriguez, her path to a degree is her path toward a better future. It’s why she works all summer back home in Belvidere to save what she can.

Bello, a 19-year-old freshman at Loyola University’s Arrupe College, and Rodriguez, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Illinois in Champaign, are just two of the nearly 130,000 low-income students in Illinois who rely on the grants from the state’s leading financial aid program in order to continue their education.

Unfortunately for them, Gov. Bruce Rauner keeps eliminating that financial aid program, known as the Monetary Award Program (MAP). He’s repeatedly vetoed the program, the latest rejection coming last week and just days after Bello and Rodriguez travelled to the Capitol to help deliver legislation keeping the MAP program alive to the governor’s office.

His action jeopardizes the college careers of thousands of students at public and private schools across Illinois. Many students – including Bello and Rodriguez – are the first in their families to attend college. Rauner’s cuts disproportionately hit minority students: 22 percent of MAP recipients are African American, another 20 percent are Latino.

What’s ironic is that we, the Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate, first sent the MAP financial aid budget to the governor as a standalone proposal back in May in the hope that it would not fall victim to his politics. We wanted to give him a clean opportunity to back up his commitment to making education a priority.

Instead, he has now twice used his veto pen to try to eliminate any chance of these students getting the financial aid his administration promised nearly a year ago. The governor’s actions are forcing current students to abandon their studies and sending prospective college students to other states that value higher education and the economic activity that comes with it.

This from a governor who told the people of Illinois he’d make the state more competitive and compassionate. Ask Jonathan and Trisha how that’s working out.

Crushing children’s college dreams and destroying our higher education system does neither.

Next week, the General Assembly will return to session with the opportunity to override the governor’s veto and restore the MAP program. If you care about the future of Illinois, understand the value of higher education and believe the state should honor its commitment to students, I hope you will join with me in calling on lawmakers to do the right thing and restore MAP.

From: Senator Iris Y. Martinez

Category: Blog Post

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