U of I seeks to offset MAP cuts

By Matt Michalek

One downstate school is exploring ways to help students offset recent cutbacks in the Monetary Award Program (MAP), but it is unclear whether these measures can be implemented at NIU.

The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana is examining two ways which would help students recoup their losses from January MAP cuts.

The U of I Student Government Association organized a student referendum to vote on a one-time fee of $40 for the undergraduate student body to raise the money needed to cover the deficit in the MAP funds.

The faculty at U of I also has set up an emergency relief fund through their financial aid office that is open to donations.

NIU Student Association President Preston Came said he knew about the student referendum, but was unaware of the fund set up by the U of I faculty.

A referendum like this could be possible at NIU, Came said, but since it is reasonable to expect a double-digit percentage increase in tuition next year, it might not go over very well.

“The idea of a fund set up to help students out sounds like a good idea,” he said. “This is something that would be interesting to look into, and I will present it to the (SA) executive board and staff.

“Overall, the entire situation with the MAP reductions is disappointing,” he said. “I don’t feel the university is doing all it can for the affected students, and I hope NIU will change its policy on the matter.”

Barbara Henley, vice president for Student Affairs, said it is not true that NIU has not done all it can to help the affected students.

“I had everyone around here looking for a way that we could help these students out,” she said. “NIU is committed to working with individual students on each of their individual situations.”

If a student has a problem because of the MAP cuts, he should write a letter to the director of financial aid explaining the situation. Henley said the office then will work with the student to solve the problem.

Jamal Coleman, assembly member in the Student Government Association, said, “The student trustees suggested that we spread the amount to all undergraduate in-state students, instead of making the neediest students pay all of it.”

The referendum, which ended last Thursday, did not pass, failing by a margin of about 600 votes.

Loretta Jones, associate director of the general chemistry program at U of I, initially came up with the idea to set up a fund to help students.

“It didn’t seem right to go to the students who are least able to protect themselves and ask for more money,” she said.

David Eisenman, Illinois Student Assistance Commission vice chairman, was contacted by Jones and asked what could be done to help the students.

“I remembered a fund that I worked on in 1967 and 1968 to help students affected by cuts to federal aid programs. This is essentially the same thing,” he said.