MAP Grant credit good move for NIU

Northern Star Editorial board

NIU did the right thing when it credited MAP grant recipients in the midst of a state-wide budget impasse, an action Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner needs to take note of.

With no budget in sight, more than 5,000 NIU students are on the line between a state Senate intent on funding MAP with a bill, SB 2043, that will grant the program $373 million and a governor who has pledged to veto that bill, which awaits a House vote.

“Unfortunately, nothing has changed since the Senate’s consideration of HB 4146,” said Richard Goldberg, Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs, about a bill that proposed appropriations for MAP earlier in the year, according to a prepared statement. “Therefore, absent proposals from the majority to reduce spending and balance the budget, SB 2043 would simply pave the way for more debt or higher taxes.”

The state may be broke, but things will get a lot worse if we turn our college students — who will one day turn into a skilled work force — away because they can’t afford tuition. If we lose engineering students now, we lose real-life engineers down the road, and likewise for all academic fields.

The General Assembly has a chance to override the governor’s potential veto, but only with a three-fifths vote in both houses.

That takes time. Students have a lot of things in abundance, such as motivation and energy, but they do not have time — neither does NIU. Students have not been guaranteed they will be credited MAP funds in the spring if a budget isn’t decided by then; however, NIU President Doug Baker said he doesn’t anticipate the impasse to take that long.

“We know how critically important that is to so many of our students, so that is why we and the other universities have said we’re going to step up and make sure the students are going to be covered for this fall,” he said.

Be that as it may, it is bewildering the state has gone almost two months without a budget, so expectations are out of the window. Students don’t need expectations; they need action. That is why Rauner needs to pass this bill if it reaches his desk.

Make some noise

Students and all other NIU stakeholders are affected by the fate of MAP. If 5,000 students can’t afford class, then that means there will be no need for a lot of faculty and staff.

Don’t let that happen. Get up and make some noise. Call or write your local representatives and the governor’s office. Let them know how this will affect you and everyone else’s livelihood at NIU.