MAP Grant Funding by Jaylin McClinton
Throughout my collegiate experience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) has been a key factor in my academic success. For the past few months, the Illinois General Assembly and Governor Rauner have been at an unprecedented stalemate on the budget for fiscal year (FY) 2016 resulting in a devastating blow to major entities (i.e. social services, colleges/universities, etc.) that keep the Illinois economy moving forward. As a student leader, I have spent countless hours testifying (both on-and-off campus), meeting with legislative leaders, and even addressing Governor Rauner and his “pro-education” agenda directly.
The state of funding for the Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) is in trouble and the Democratic Party should use this as a moment of reflection to ensure that it is not an on-going problem for the next generation.
As a student leader and a resident of the Roseland community in Chicago, I was outraged when my colleagues at Chicago State University announced that it would be closing due to financial challenges. I know students there and that institution for many people is the difference between pursuing a higher education or falling into the wrong crowd. In Illinois, we have to have an honest conversation about opportunity and the development of a true cradle to college pipeline. In 2016, there should not be a conversation about funding higher education, but rather a systemic program with the necessary funds to make this a no-brainer. I believe that the Democratic Party and the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen Association can be a true leader on this.
In order to address this in a holistic manner, I would suggest collecting stories from every nook and cranny possible in the state of Illinois to hear the narratives of the middle and low-income students and families this is disproportionately impacting and send them directly to Mr. Rauner’s desk. Second, the Democratic Party should be mobilizing students in all 102 counties whether they are Monetary Award Program (MAP) recipients or not to register to vote and participate in all elections at the local, state, and federal level. When an individual continues to shout about their investment in higher education, but their actions showcase something entirely different that should concern students of all backgrounds and we must all band together to say enough is enough at the ballot box. Lastly, party members especially at the county and state level should create more spaces for student leaders like student body presidents/student trustees to have regular conversations about the status of higher education in Illinois.
If the Democratic Party and the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen Association embrace this, the voices of the most vulnerable will be heard and the status of higher education in Illinois will begin to climb on an upward trend.
Jaylin McClinton is a student leader at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a delegate for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2nd Congressional District.