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College funds affected by state budget

Jessica Bursztynsky, IV Leader Associate Editor

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Illinois’ withheld budget imposes financial burden to colleges across the state and could affect IVCC’s MAP grants in spring semester.
For officials in the state of Illinois government these past few months have been filled political arguments that have ended with a budget standoff and the state seemingly falling toward crisis.
Since this year’s budget is currently being withheld, state funds are not being provided to the programs they normally go to. This means that several businesses and programs across Illinois are forced to reconsider their financial plans for the year, including IVCC.
One large decision for colleges in Illinois is the choice of awarding the normally state-funded Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants to students.
MAP grants do not need to be repaid and are given to students who apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and show financial need. The money given to MAP grants is usually in place before the start of the school year, so colleges are able to confidently provide decreased tuition with the expectation that the government will refund the financial aid.
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission reported that the Illinois government funded $373,254,500 in 2014 to cover 367,832 MAP grants, showing these funds are an extremely common and needed way for low income students to pay for tuition.
There are about 500 students enrolled at IVCC who qualify for MAP grants this school year. The funds, where amounts awarded depend on a student’s credit hours, range from $342 to $1,750. The total cost for fall MAP grants will cost IVCC slightly over $300,000, according to IVCC’s Vice President for Business Services & Finance Cheryl Roelfsema.
In an Aug. 12 press release, IVCC President Jerry Corcoran stated, “We will cover students’ MAP funds until state funding arrives because we cannot in good conscience allow the budget impasse in Springfield to result in any hesitancy on the part of our students to enroll in programs we know will change their lives.”
IVCC will cover the expenses if the state is unable to make a decision or if the MAP grant is funded at a reduced rate. However, this deal is only officially in place for the fall semester. A decision for the spring MAP grants is yet to be made.
Roelfsema stated that “Over the years the college has built a strong financial position and has the reserves to continue to operate without state funding for a short time.”
IVCC will not make a decision about the spring MAP grants until more information relating to the fall MAP grants is provided.
The Illinois General Assembly and the governor spend each year working on a new state budget to have in place for the upcoming fiscal year.
The budget details how taxpayer money should be spent and what funds can be allocated to certain government supported sections.
After taking office in 2015, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner started fighting the General Assembly on a new state budget. Rauner is pushing for a sharp decrease in budget spending tied to limits on unions and collective bargaining, which many members of the Illinois House and Senate are opposing.
Illinois faces a budget deficit of $6 billion since a temporary state income tax expired and the state will not collect that revenue.

If the state continues its current rate of spending, the deficit is expected to rise to $9 billion by the 2016 fiscal year, starting July 1, as stated by Crain’s Chicago Business.
In order to combat the amount of funds spent, Gov. Rauner is pushing to cut down university funding by 31.5 percent, or $387 million dollars.
If the state of Illinois votes to cut higher education funding, some universities will be forced to lay off staff or be unable to give students their hard-earned scholarships. Eastern Illinois University’s student newspaper, The Daily Eastern News, has reported that the university is facing a staff layoff if the state budget is cut significantly.
The University of Illinois has reported that the university is facing a loss of up to $209 million in state funding.
Officials at IVCC had originally revised its budget to only include the fall MAP grant expenses. However, the budget may need to be revisited for spring.
“While the impasse continues and there are rumors of reduced funding, the administration and board of trustees will need to evaluate expenses for possible reductions,” said Roelfsema.
It is unclear what areas will be affected if the college does not receive the normal amount of funding.
While facing an unsure future of government funding, university officials will be awaiting more information.
College students may end up having to rethink the already difficult

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IV Leader is the student newspaper of Illinois Valley Community College
College funds affected by state budget