NIU: curve ball, student pocket

There’s good news and bad. The good news is that NIU seems to be waking up to its financial crisis and is looking for places to trim the budget. The bad news is the places they’re finding are the pockets of student blue jeans.

Because of the state’s budget woes, students who received money from the Monetary Award Program are seeing part of that money slip out of their fingers. In other words, they owe the state the part that was cut. They’ll be billed sometime this week.

What a kick in the blue jeans. These students obviously needed the money to come to school. Now, they’re having to pay it back. If they couldn’t quite afford school in the first place, how are they going to afford it now?

One would think NIU would come to the aid of these students. Well, more bad news. NIU is just watching and saying they couldn’t handle such a payment.

Barbara Henley, vice president for Student Affairs, said this would put the school back $373,000 and gosh darn it, they just can’t cover it.

Well, money like that usually is regarded as peanuts around here. For an institution that talks casually about million-dollar figures and laughs off million-dollar lawsuits, helping students out to the tune of $373,000 doesn’t seem so bad.

NIU should be committed to educating the students who come here and not sweeping them under the rug. Eliminating classes, closing departments, shortening summer school and now looking for money owed from chopped MAP awards all have a common thread—scrimping money at the expense of the students.

Both NIU and Springfield should be applauded for looking for ways to tighten the belt. However, it’s unfortunate students’ pocketbooks seem like the only loopholes they can find.