A group of approximately 50 Saint Xavier University students will travel to the Illinois state capitol on Thursday, Oct. 15 to attend a rally urging legislators to restore funding for Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grants. The Illinois Education Association will host the event, and Governor Pat Quinn is scheduled to make an appearance. The rally is from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at 100 E. Edwards St, Springfield, Ill. (in the parking lot of the Illinois Education Association).
The budget that was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor on July 14 provides approximately $194 million for the Monetary Award Program. This is about half of last year’s MAP grant funds. If the General Assembly and Governor Quinn do not act to restore $200 million in MAP funds by the end of October, as many as 138,000 students will be unable to return to college for the spring semester.
Forty-one percent of Saint Xavier University undergraduates depend on MAP grants as of the 2009 Fall semester, amounting to a total of $5.8 million for this academic year, or an average of $4,492 per student for the academic year. The following SXU student statements demonstrate the human cost of the loss of these funds:
“I am horrified about losing my Map Grant. I am 28 years old, a mother of 3 young children and a wife. Both my husband and I attend Saint Xavier and will be graduating in May 2010. We both have come too far to not be able to walk across that stage in May and get our diploma. With a seven-, five- and one-year-old, it is impossible for me to work and go to school full time and take care of them. We cannot afford to pay two tuition payments (because my husband will lose his too). I just took the LSAT 2 weeks ago for law school and this is insane if I will have to forfeit my future because the state is not doing what it is supposed to do.”
“If the MAP grant is completely taken away, then my enrollment for the spring 2010 semester is in question.”
“Most loan companies are not taking in new loan applicants. This is making it even harder for students to get money to be able to enroll in school for the 2010 school year. I work 20 hours a week and am scheduled to take 18 credit hours next semester. I am trying to take CLEP tests so I can lighten my load next semester and only take the 2 courses that I need to graduate in order to save money. It really does affect us financially.”
“Politicians are always stressing that the young people of today need a good education, but they are making it almost impossible. This grant is important for me because without it, I may not be able to continue my education here or anywhere else. My parents are already helping me out, but they have bills and two other sons to help. I do not want to leave Saint Xavier, but not getting this rest of this grant may force me to transfer out and seek other options.”
Hundreds, possibly thousands of students from around the State of Illinois will attend the rally, utilizing all available means of communication to deliver their message to legislators, including an expected “blitz” of social media messaging via means such as Twitter and Face book.
“We believe that the core values of Saint Xavier University compel us to participate in this important rally,” said Mark Piper, President of the Student Government Association. “Having our voices be heard is critical because access to education must be made available to all students in Illinois. It is necessary for our students, who will be negatively impacted by this cut, to defend their ability to continue their studies at Saint Xavier.”
Local check-in for Saint Xavier students attending the rally is 7:30 a.m. in front of the Warde Academic Center building at the main Chicago campus. Buses depart at 8 and will arrive in Springfield at 11 a.m. A meeting with local legislators is anticipated from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., followed by the rally at 12:30 p.m.