031016CM0079SPRINGFIELD — With nearly the entire academic year passed, thousands of college students in Illinois who rely upon Monetary Award Program grants will finally be made whole, thanks to legislation passed by the Illinois Senate today.

House Bill 4167 authorizes the spending of $227 million for MAP grants for the 2015-16 academic year. When coupled with Senate Bill 2059, which was signed into law last month, the bills represent the original appropriation for MAP in the 2016 budget year. State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet), who has been on the forefront of the fight for MAP funding, was a chief co-sponsor of HB 4167.

“Last week I was at the commencements of Joliet Junior College and Governors State University. Both schools have many students awaiting the full amount of need-based financial aid the state promised them,” said McGuire, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Passage of HB 4167 gets us two-thirds of the way toward keeping our word to these students. The governor now has the opportunity to take the final step.”

Without a proper higher education budget in place, colleges and universities fronted MAP money to students during the first semester. But a number of schools indicated that they couldn’t continue doing so for the second semester, leaving students to choose whether to go deeper into debt with more student loans or quit school altogether.

“Making almost 130,000 needy college students uncertain if they can continue their education makes Illinois’ future uncertain,” McGuire said. “Let’s wise up, support hard work and ambition, and fully fund MAP grants.”

HB 4167, having passed the House earlier this week, now goes to the governor’s desk.

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