On New Year’s Eve, Raysel Turner counted down not to a champagne toast or confetti toss at midnight, but to the moment just after, when she could file her FAFSA.
Turner, a junior at Roosevelt, wanted to submit her financial aid application and those of her two college-aged children as soon as possible. Why the rush? Turner knows that filing the FAFSA quickly is the only way to get a grant from Illinois’ Monetary Award Program (MAP), a critical part of the aid packages that allow her and her children to attend college.
MAP is the only need-based grant for education in Illinois. It is not a loan, so students don’t have to pay it back.
“About one-third of our undergraduate population is dependent on the MAP grant, and the lack of these funds would be devastating to our community and our students,” said Jeanne Locarnini, assistant provost for financial aid. “We’re grateful to lawmakers who look for ways to protect this critical funding that changes the lives of many people.”
Turner, who is 40 and majoring in human resource management, said MAP funding has changed her life and the lives of her two children in college (she also has two younger children).
“Just because you’re low-income and you live in a rough neighborhood doesn’t mean you don’t have great gifts and talents that can be applied to the world,” she said.
MAP grants also are essential to the state’s economic development, said Dave Tretter, president of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities. The association comprises 60 private nonprofit colleges, including Roosevelt. “We want educated citizens who are more likely to be working and less likely to be relying on the social welfare system. And if they have better jobs, they pay higher taxes.”
Students who use state grants to attend private schools are leveraging state dollars because they receive additional institutional funding—sometimes at a ratio of 9 to 1—on top of their state grants, Tretter added.
State aid is especially important given the economic realities Illinois residents face, said State Rep. Michelle Mussman, who represents Illinois’ 56th district, which includes Roosevelt’s Schaumburg campus. She said her constituents have always prioritized education. But with her community facing lay-offs and tight budgets, it’s getting harder and harder for even middle-class families to pay for college.
“They did all the things they’re supposed to do and it’s not working out for them,” Mussman said. That is unacceptable because, “in this day and age, we’re learning you need some form of higher education to have that future that we’ve all dreamed of.”
Many Roosevelt students will tell you: MAP can make the difference. Tomorrow on the Social Justice Blog, junior Sean Anderson talks about how his struggles paying for school and his dedication to earning a bachelor’s degree have helped inspire his future goals in public service. On Wednesday, senior LeeAnn Revis will tell her story of how attending Roosevelt, thanks to MAP, allowed her to pursue her dreams after facing personal tragedy.