Contact: Joe King, NIU Office of Public Affairs
September 25, 2009
|DeKalb, Ill. — Gov. Pat Quinn visited Northern Illinois University Friday and pledged his support to restoring second-semester funding to the Monetary Award Program.
The 50-year-old program, known as MAP, provides grants to the neediest of students and is one of the oldest collegiate funding programs in the state. Legislators cut funding for the program in half this year. As a result, the 138,000 students who received MAP funding for the first semester will have no such assistance in the second semester.
“That’s not acceptable,” Quinn told more than 200 cheering students assembled in the Holmes Student Center. “We can’t have that. We have TWO semesters here. We’re not sending anybody home (next semester) from Northern Illinois University or any other university or community college in Illinois.
“We need to invest in those students,” he added. “We need to invest in that brainpower – this is the future of Illinois.”
Quinn vowed to press the issue in the October Veto Session.
“We have to use the tools of democracy to make sure that we organize and get the funding necessary for these grants. That’s what I’m committed to as governor,” he said. “Frankly, I’m not going to let the legislature go home. We’ll keep calling special sessions if we have to.”
When asked where he would find the $200 million needed to fund the second-semester grants, Quinn said that he is open to all ideas. He supports a proposal to use funds from a cigarette tax hike to fill part of the gap and said that he would listen to a tax amnesty proposal drafted by Rep. Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley). Under Pritchard’s plan, individuals behind on state property and income taxes would be given a six-week period during which they could pay without penalty. The plan could raise as much as $100 million, backers say.
NIU President John Peters lauded Quinn’s commitment to the issue, saying that it is crucial to students across the state.
“This situation amounts to nothing less than a crisis in funding for a generation of young Illinoisans who will be unable to continue their college studies in 2010 unless the General Assembly takes action next month,” Peters said. “Gov. Quinn pledged to lead the fight to restore those funds; he has been a man of his word, and I am proud to join him in that quest.”
For more information on the issue of restoring MAP grant funding, Quinn urged people to visit the Web site saveillinoismapgrants.org.