News Local/State

State Budget Boosts MAP

A jar full of change.

The budget agreement provides more money for MAP grants. Carter Staley/NPR Illinois

The new state budget will fund Illinois colleges and universities at the level of funding they received in 2015 — minus 10 percent. But there’s one area of higher education that got a boost. 

The Monetary Award Program, known as MAP, provides grants of up to $4,700 to low-income college students. The two-year budget impasse shone a bright light on the program, as these students spoke out about how the lack of funding threw their lives into chaos. Lawmakers responded by increasing the amount going to MAP scholarships by 10 percent in the new state budget.

Tom Cross, who led House Republicans for more than a decade, now chairs the State Board of Higher Education.

“This was good. I applaud the General Assembly for passing this budget with respect to MAP,” he says. But even this increase isn’t enough.

“We could — in terms of the need to take care of all the kids eligible for MAP — we actually need more money,” Cross says.

He says he hopes this renewed commitment to MAP funding will persuade students to stay in Illinois. The state ranks No. 2 in the nation for out-migration of college students. In fact, Illinois held this ranking long before the budget impasse.

“We’ve got an efficient, streamlined way we run schools now, we’re taking care of our kids with MAP, and we want you Illinois students to stay in Illinois,” Cross says. “We have great schools.”