Floor 2SPRINGFIELD – Illinois college students struggling to afford school because of the state budget crisis are one major step closer to receiving much-needed financial aid.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), voted Thursday to approve funding for the state’s Monetary Award Grant program that gives middle- and low-income students the ability to afford a college education.

Lawmakers originally approved funding for MAP last May, but Governor Rauner vetoed the measure, freezing the funds.

“MAP makes the difference between being able to attend college or not for thousands of students, who couldn’t otherwise afford it. If we truly value education and opportunity for every student, we need to prioritize MAP and that’s what we did today,” Manar said.

Last year, MAP provided funding for roughly 128,000 students. It is estimated that this legislation will extend grants to an additional 15,000 low income students. The average family income for a student receiving MAP is $30,000 per year, and 57 percent of MAP recipients are the first in their families to attend college.

The legislation, Senate Bill 2043, also provides funding for community colleges, vocational training and adult education programs.

The Senate originally approved this funding measure last August and received House approval Thursday morning, returning to the Senate with amendments.

The Senate voted to give the legislation final approval Thursday, and it will next go the governor.

“I urge the governor to realize the importance of MAP and sign this as soon as possible so we can honor the state’s commitment to these students,” Manar said.

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