In April of 2009, the Illinois State legislature considered cutting funds on the Monetary Award Program, commonly known as the MAP grants.
Up to $2,500 per year in grants had been awarded, largely to lower income Illinois students who needed a boost in order to complete their education. After the legislature’s decision to slash the budget, these students will be receiving part of their money for fall semester and no money in the winter and spring.
At Knox, 255 students will be losing this money, which will affect their ability to continue at this institution.
“The MAP grant was one chunk of money that I didn’t have to worry about,” said senior Brigette Todt, a recipient of the grant for the past three years. This year, she stands to lose $2,484. “Somehow, we’re going to figure it out. I’m going to come back to Knox. This is just another hurdle.”
Todt, along with the other 254 students, will need to find another way to cover the money they had been awarded for the rest of the year unless the state legislature decides to refund the program. Many activists around the state have been asking for this change.
“In my opinion, it’s a simple political matter,” said President Roger Taylor. “What the college has been doing is encouraging students to contact their representatives.”
Taylor is encouraging students to contact their representatives, preferably through a phone call or personal letter, and voice their opinion about this situation in order to affect a change. Students can also find form letters on the internet and send them to their respective representatives. Don Moffitt is the representative for the Galesburg area.
“It’s time to act and let our thoughts and feelings be known,” said Todt. “It’s not just a financial aspect, this is people’s lives.”
Todt is also a member of ATP, Knox’s sorority colony that is working on nationalization this year. Members of ATP have rallied around Todt and the other MAP recipients by asking students to sign a petition supporting funds for the grants, which will be sent to the state legislature. After three days of tabling outside the cafeteria, the petition has already received 405 signatures.
“Knox isn’t just a place of education, it’s a home for four years,” said Todt. “A college education is really invaluable.”
In addition to the efforts put forth by Knox students, there have been several open forums and rallies held around the state in support of this funding. Last Friday, an open forum was held at Carl Sandburg College to discuss this loss. Two Knox students, seniors Matthew Wheaton and Maurice McDavid spoke about how the grants have impacted their ability to attend Knox.
Further hearings in October will be held at Loyola University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a student rally in Springfield.
Taylor encourages interested students to become involved in these forums as a way to protect the funding from around the state. At this time, most institutions cannot absorb the cost of the MAP grants to continue providing their students with that aid.
“It must be frustrating for the students and their families to see the general assembly and the governor not dealing with this,” said Taylor. “I hope and suspect that most of the 255 Knox students and other students statewide will find other sources for the money.”
When Todt realized she would be losing the MAP grant, her sudden panic was eased by an e-mail from her mother, stating “Don’t fret, we’ll work this out.” She plans on trying to take extra loans to finish her last two trimesters at Knox. However, the extra loans are a continual stressor as she plans on finding her own place and funding health care after graduation.
Todt said both she and her parents have worked hard to fund as much of her education as possible on their own and have made sacrifices in order for her to attend the private liberal arts institution.
“Knox gave me a lot [in scholarships], but Knox is also a lot, a lot of money,” said Todt. “In the grand scheme of things, $2,500 doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but every little bit helps.”
Todt feels lucky that she was able to attend Knox and would not have wanted an education from anywhere else. She works in the Alumni Affairs office while on campus and knows the benefits one can receive by being a part of the Knox alumni network. She also appreciates the small class size and three-term that allows her to work in a focused and independent environment.
“We can’t take education for granted,” said Todt. “When I decided to go to Knox, my parents said, ‘We’ll make it work.’ The MAP grant is part of making it work.”
Despite the loss, Todt is determined to finish her education at Knox, though other students around the state may not be in such a good spot.
“[The MAP grant] is important for a lot of students,” said Taylor. “ For some students at Knox and elsewhere, it’s probably going to mean the difference between finishing their education or not.”