Statue of Delyte Morris on SIU's Campus (Source: Loreto Cruz, KFVS)
CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) -
Southern Illinois University says it will pay to cover MAP grants in the Spring 2016 semester.
The Monetary Awards Program is one of the many casualties hit by Illinois' budget deadlock.
SIU paid for the grants in Fall of 2015 in hopes of getting repaid when a budget was finally in place.
The University's interim chancellor said the school will do the same for the 2016 spring semester, adding up to more than $11 million.
“We cannot afford to carry these grants on behalf of the state without being repaid,” explained SIU Spokes-woman Rae Goldsmith. “We’ll have to have some tough discussions.”
The university, facing a nearly decade-long enrollment decline, has faced an onslaught of budgetary challenges as of late, and even researched cutting "non-essential” programs earlier in 2015.
That was following Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s initial budget address which included a proposed higher education slash of $387 million, including $60 million out of the SIU’s state-provided funds.
“There’s a lot riding on Springfield for us right now,” Goldsmith explained.
If everything goes as University leaders hope, lawmakers in Springfield will form a budget and pay the University back for the MAP grants distributed for Fall 2015, and Spring 2016.
Goldsmith said that repayment has not been promised.
Students who were expecting Spring 2016 assistance from the traditionally “first-come-first-serve-style" program will have applied and been granted the funds as early as the first few months of 2015.
SIU student Samantha Hennig said she thinks payment should be a priority for lawmakers.
“[Students] are kind of entitled to it, I think they deserve to get that money,” Hennig said. “Rather than just being cut off from the education they’ve already started and paid for. College is expensive, and that grant makes the difference of going or not to a lot of students.”
MAP grants are need-based, and can vary from a minuscule amount, to several thousand a semester.
Goldsmith said the move was made to prevent lower-income students from dropping out.
More than 4,000 students at SIU receive money from the program, which equates to nearly a quarter of the student body.