Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger's office disbursed $164 million in payments Thursday for Monetary Award Program grants.
The needs-based MAP grants are awarded to low-income Illinois college students for tuition assistance.
The MAP program had gone unfunded during the state budget impasse. But some money was allocated for the program under a $600 million emergency funding package for higher education. The legislature approved the stopgap funding bill last Friday and Gov. Bruce Rauner signed it Monday.
Munger released the following statement Thursday about the MAP grant payments:
Today, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission sent $164 million in MAP Grant vouchers to my office and we turned around the payments immediately. As a result, colleges and universities will receive payment to assist the 125,000 college students who rely upon that funding to further their education. Our students have suffered unacceptable hardship due to this budget impasse and it is my priority to provide relief however possible.
But this is not a long term solution. In fact, the MAP Grant funding that was signed into law earlier this week covers only half of what students were promised this year. I applaud the General Assembly and Governor for a strong first step, but it is critical that they now finish the job and pass a comprehensive balanced budget that allows us to keep our promises not only to students, but also to social service providers, schools, businesses and others that are serving taxpayers across our state.
The emergency higher education funding package also allocates $356 million for public universities and $74 million for community colleges. Before the funding bill's approval, higher education institutions had received zero money from the state during the budget stalemate, which has lasted for more than 300 days.