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The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Loss of MAP grants threatens the DePaul experience

Loss+of+MAP+grants+threatens+the+DePaul+experience

The Illinois State House of Representatives will vote on a budget bill this Tuesday that contains funding for the Monetary Assistance Program (MAP), a financial aid system that provides more than $370 million in grants to low- and middle-income students across the state.

Approximately 5,000 DePaul students are MAP recipients. Without its funding – which offers more than $4,000 in assistance per student — their academic futures at DePaul may soon be in jeopardy.

As a result, many branches of the university have banded together in order to advocate for MAP. At the forefront of this effort is DePaul’s Student Government Association (SGA), which ordinarily focuses its yearly MAP advocacy efforts for the following school year. However, it became apparent soon after the beginning of this fiscal year that there were no guarantees for the safety of the 2015-16 MAP funding.

“Spending was happening in the state, but there was no approval of the budget,” SGA President Vanessa Cadavillo said. “In the springtime, they approved to have a MAP budget. But there’s no money actually being allocated to that right now. So when we started seeing that there was nothing coming through and we didn’t see any action from Springfield that started to trigger (the question) ‘what do we do next?’”

On Oct. 28, university president Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M. sent out a letter to students asking them to advocate for the program to the governor and legislators.

“It is very important that the governor and members of the Illinois House of Representatives hear directly from you, a MAP recipient,” Holtschneider said. “They need to understand that real people like you rely on important programs like MAP, programs that require funding. Please contact them today and tell the governor and your representative to pass a budget that fully funds this important financial aid program.”

The president also said that the university would continue to monitor the situation and advocate for a resolution.

For SGA, the most immediate course of action was to raise the degree of student awareness surrounding the issue. They reached out to Chartwells and Information Services to broadcast MAP information on cup sleeves and computer home screens and launched the social media campaign #MAPMatters.

However, the most effective method of advocacy has been direct interaction with students, Cadavillo said. In particular, she pointed out the MAP Advocacy Days held on both campuses, in which SGA tables in areas heavily trafficked by students to encourage them to promote MAP. In previous years, this involved having passerbys fill out postcards to send to their state representatives. Now, with an increased level of urgency looming upon the issue, they instead provide laptops so that students may look up and call their representatives. It is SGA’s hope that this more personalized approach will resonate more with state government officials.

During these Advocacy Days, SGA also details the direct ramifications that would impact DePaul if MAP money were to disappear. It’s likely that the massive dearth of enrolled students would cause a tuition hike, as well as cuts to student organization funding and programs.

Aside from purely monetary concerns, Cadavillo also cites a potential detriment to the overall DePaul experience if the student population were to be winnowed down by the loss of MAP recipients.

“We wouldn’t have the diverse student population, we wouldn’t have those first-generation students, we wouldn’t have those low-income families,” Cadavillo said. “That’s going against the mission that we have, so that would really change the culture here at DePaul. And I think that’s a reality that’s setting in for the university but also for the students.”

In the end, this seems to be the message that impacts students the most – not that their tuition might go up, or that certain programs might be cut, but that their friends and peers would be faced with the prospect of leaving their DePaul education behind.

“I’ve known students who I’ve gone to school with for the past two and a half years with, and I can’t imagine my experience at DePaul without them,” SGA Vice President Ric Popp said. “The face value (of MAP grants) is $20 million. But it’s so much more than that.”

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