Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Important Message for Illinois High School Seniors!

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So I was going to write this post titled, "Shonda, two ways." I was going to talk about Shonda Rhimes' new book, Year of Yes, which I recently read and enjoyed And then I was going to talk about the Yiddish term shonda, which means shame. Only it's more than just shame, a shonda is, like, SHAME. With the second shonda, I was going to talk about the budget crisis in Illinois and some of the services that are being cut because our state has not had a signed budget since the end of the last fiscal year in June 2015.

Anyway, I never got around to that post, but the budget crisis persists. Many Illinois residents who are most in need of social services are not able to get them. This Illinois Budget Clock, a product of a weekly civic hack night meet-up in Chicago, provides an update on the length of the crisis as well as stories of how it's impacting my state. Today I received an urgent note from the college counselor at my son's school, which prompted me to finally write something.

The Illinois Monetary Awards Program (MAP) provides a limited amount of grant money to low-income college students who attend approved colleges in the state. As with so many other bills, the MAP grants have gone unpaid since the current fiscal year. This means neither the students nor the schools are receiving this money. From what I can tell the schools are doing their best to try to support the students who are not able to pay the related chunk of their tuition, but just because the state is managing to avoid paying its bills doesn't mean other institutions and people have the same luxury.

So anyway, the urgent note from the college counselor warned that Illinois students must submit their FAFSA* (federal student aid report) by March 9 to be considered for an Illinois MAP grant for the 2016-17 school year. MAP will be suspended by March 10. (Of course, this assumes that the state will make good on its current obligations and then have money allotted for the program during the next fiscal year...)

That gives you 24 hours, peeps. Go!

*Even if family income is such that the student will not be eligible for aid, many colleges request or require this form.

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