Higher education took center stage, as lawmakers and state officials continue to advance options to restore funding to Illinois’ Monetary Award Program (MAP).

Also this week, Senator Tim Bivins said some lawmakers are calling for the elimination of the state’s Legislative Scholarship Program, and a southern Illinois judge ruled on possible layoffs of state union employees.

Governor Pat Quinn recently cut the state’s MAP program, which provides financial assistance to approximately 145,000 Illinois college students. Quinn reduced state funding to MAP by 50 percent, and unless the revenue is reinstated, there will be no MAP awards for the 2010 spring semester.

Senator Bivins said that while Illinois’ dire budget situation precipitated cuts, Quinn had the flexibility in the state budget to protect the college scholarship program. The cuts have prompted an outcry from universities, community colleges and students across Illinois who depend on MAP. An additional $202 million is needed to fully finance spring semester awards. It is estimated that 138,000 students will be impacted by the reduction, and that many will be forced to leave school.

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