Local leaders discuss higher education funding concerns


Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs talks to a group of 16 NIU and DeKalb leaders Monday during a round table discussion in the Holmes Student Center Sky Room. Students are seven times more likely to go to college if they know they have the financial means to do so, said Frerichs, who visited NIU to express his support for MAP funding, among other things.  

By Northern Star staff

Community leaders from NIU and DeKalb voiced their concerns about funding for higher education Monday at a round table discussion held by Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs.

Frerichs, who assumed office Jan. 12 after serving as the higher education committee chairman in the state Senate, said he wants to put a spotlight on Monetary Assistance Program funding. More than 5,000 NIU students qualify for more than $20 million in MAP funding.

“Everyone talks about the fact that there is a lack of budget,” Frerichs said. “But it’s true that K-12 education budget was signed into law, we have court orders making sure state employees are paid, making sure that medicaid providers are paid, and a lot of people think there’s not really big consequences to this. And we want to point out that as students are going back to school, the need to make funding for higher education simply for MAP grants a priority.”

NIU has credited students with MAP grant estimates through the fall, but students have not been guaranteed MAP credits in the spring should there be no funding for MAP. NIU President Doug Baker said he thinks there will be a budget for the program by then, according to an Aug. 26 Northern Star editorial.

“The lack of budget really effects overall the student experience,” said Rainn Darring, Campus Activity Board president. “One of my fears now, just thinking about it, people will not return in the spring semester, which means … I wouldn’t really be able to satisfy the student experience. … Some people are expecting spring concerts and other things that universities have, but because of enrollment, we can’t afford these things because students aren’t returning.”

A bill that would grant $373 million to the MAP program passed the Senate Aug. 19 and awaits House approval, but Gov. Bruce Rauner will veto the bill should it arrive on his desk, said Richard Goldberg, Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs.

Editor’s note: A more indepth version of this story will appear in the Northern Star’s print edition and online Thursday.