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Rauner approves bill to partially restore higher education and MAP grant funding

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In the midst of a nearly year-long battle to fund higher education during the state’s fiscal crisis, a bill that would appropriate nearly $170 million to partially fund the Monetary Awards Program (MAP) passed through the Illinois senate Friday and was signed by Rauner into law.

In total, the bill allocates about $600 million to public universities and in state assistance to low-income students. This comes after several public universities threatened cuts or shutdowns — including Chicago State University, which could end its school year after April — after the state’s budget crisis halted funding.

Because the state has failed to pass a budget for FY 2015, Illinois lawmakers have pushed bills to fund state services through to the governor’s desk piecemeal. In February, a bill that would have appropriated more than $721 million to MAP and higher education was vetoed by Gov. Rauner. This new bill appropriates less than half of what Illinois Democrats initially asked for.

About one-fifth of DePaul students from low-income and working class backgrounds receive the MAP grant, which typically awards about $4,000 per student annually. In November, DePaul announced it would honor grants promised to current students through the end of the 2016 academic year, and this winter, the university announced it will also honor funding for incoming students during the 2016-17 academic year. The university is currently operating on a surplus and in its 2016-17 budget, DePaul set aside additional funding in case MAP was not approved in the upcoming state fiscal year.

Though it would only allocate partial funding, Student Government Association President Vanessa Cadavillo said Friday the allocation was better than nothing. Cadavillo — along with other students and SGA representatives — lobbied for MAP funding in Springfield Wednesday.

“I think this is a step toward the right direction for the current year, but it is by no means enough,” Cadavillo said.

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Rauner approves bill to partially restore higher education and MAP grant funding