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Private College Students Worried about Illinois Budget Impasse

Kate Mishkin
From left to right: Zena Adad, Salvador Solis, Connie Meade, Maty Ortega, Marilyn Barnes

Five Knox College students joined roughly 1,200 other demonstrators at the Illinois capitol, calling for the state to provide funding for the Monetary Assistance Program (MAP).

The students are all from Illinois and all are recipients of MAP grants, which make college more affordable. But without a state budget, many students are in the dark about whether the funding will come through for next school year.

The state has not funded the program so far this fiscal year, which began last July. Schools -- including Knox College, Monmouth College, and Western Illinois University – have covered the cost, hoping the state eventually reimburses them.  But it’s not clear how long colleges and universities can come up with their own money to cover MAP grants.

“I’m here to stand with other people who are supposed to receive map funding and have not yet received it from the state. And we’re protesting to get that kind of funding back so that we can support education,” said Knox College freshman ZenaAdad.

“If I don’t get the grant, I’m not going to Knox anymore.”

Junior Marilyn Barnes was another Knox student in the crowd.

Credit Kate Mishkin

“I’m here because if I don’t get the MAP grant I can’t come back to school and I already paid my lease so I have to live in Galesburg either way. I’m hoping to get attention from the people in power so we can get the grant for the coming year and the years to come,” Barnes said.

Protestors huddled under a tent while they heard from Illinois legislators who support funding MAP. Representative Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) applauded students for their presence in Springfield.

“The students came through from all over the state and said ‘We are not going to allow you to put our generations into poverty. You must fund higher education,’” she said. “I’m on board, you’re on board. Let’s work together, get every rep on board before we leave this week.”

Later, protestors took to the second floor of the Capitol building, chanting phrases such as “Si se puede” and “Education is a right.”

325 Knox students receive MAP grants – that’s about one-fifth of the student body -- and 130,000 students across Illinois are recipients.