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

    MAP supporters lobby on

    A group of 15 DePaul students participated in the Private College Student Lobby Day in Springfield, Ill., on Thursday, March 3, to persuade state legislators about the importance of MAP grants at private nonprofit universities.The event, held every year in the capital, was organized by the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities (FIICU). Last December, MAP grants were cut by 5%, due to a mistake made by ISAC, state agency that operates the grant program, whereby more students got awarded than predicted. As a result, ISAC was not able to give out the awards in full.

    DePaul University was able to come up with funds to cover the difference for this year, but ISAC has already declared that it might be forced to cut grant sizes for next year as well.

    In a briefing held early last Thursday morning, Paul H. Frank, Vice President for Government Relations at FIICU, welcomed students who came to the state capital from over 60 schools across Illinois.

    “It’s your personal stories that will matter the most. It’s the connection between the policies and your stories that matters. It’s very important for them (state legislators) to know how financial aid affects your college experience. We’re here to put a face on the MAP grant,” he explained, as hundreds of students gathered at the tables cheered and applauded.

    “I hope to talk to my representative and explain how important the MAP grant is for my education,” said Mario Wilson, Junior at DePaul majoring in Finance.

    But meeting with legislators and representatives proved to be a challenging task. After venturing through winding hallways to reach the legislators’ offices, most students were told that the politicians they were supposed to talk to were either attending meetings or were simply gone for the day. Leaving cards with brief messages at the secretary’s desk remained the only option.

    Some students, however, did manage to meet with their legislators.

    Georgina Leal and Elizabeth Juarez, both Juniors at DePaul, majoring in Anthropology and Latin Studies, and International Studies and Public Policy respectively, were lucky enough to catch State Senator Steven Landek from their hometown of Burbank, Ill., as he was leaving his office.

    “I am the first-generation college student in my family and the MAP grant is what allowed me to continue my education. I don’t know what I’ll do without it,” said Juarez in a brief conversation with the senator.

    After listening to Juarez and Leal’s stories, Landek promised that he would do everything in his power, but explained that with an extremely tight budget some cuts would have to be made in all areas.

    Whereas most legislators promised to take action to protect the grant, a handful openly opposed the idea.

    Ken Dunkin, State Representative from the 5th Representative District, which covers DePaul’s Loop Campus, sounded less enthusiastic about the MAP program.

    “You have to keep in mind that this is public money going to private institutions,” he told a group of DePaul students who managed to catch up with him in the hallway.

    Peter Coffey, Director of Government Affairs at DePaul, who acted as a tour guide during the event, did not agree with Dunkin’s statement.

    “He’s looking at it the wrong way. It’s public money going to Illinois students and the students take it to institutions that they are comfortable at,” he explained.

    Coffey said he was very pleased with how the day unfolded.

    “I think the event went exactly as planned. I was very pleased that so many DePaul students came. In prior years we had one maybe two that agreed to come and this year we had a bus. I’m very happy about that. It’s very important for students to come and tell their stories and let the legislators know how important the MAP grant is. So I think we were very effective today,” he said.

    As for the future of the MAP grant, Coffey explained, it may prove critical to many DePaul students.

    “The student mix that we’re seeking – the first generation, low-income students – MAP is critical for that. We have a lot of students that rely on this, so it’s a crucial piece of financial aid process. DePaul provides resources, the Federal Government through PELL grants provides resources, and the State Government through the MAP program. So we really need all those pieces together. And if there is a cut in one, we will have to find resources in different areas,” he said.