More than 150-thousand needy college students were left without financial help this spring when Illinois ran out of money for MAP Grants. For some students, MAP Grants are the only thing keeping them in school. Nekira Cooper keeps a busy schedule:
"It is weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the financial aid office is from Monday through Thursday."
But that's not her academic or social calendar, it's her work schedule. She puts in at least 25 hours a week at Walgreens, and then 13 hours at the financial aid office. Cooper is a first-generation college student. She's studying criminal justice at the University of Illinois Springfield, and wants to become an Air Force officer when she graduates. Despite her full-time-equivalent work schedule, Cooper says she also depends on Illinois' Monetary Assistance Program, or MAP, which provides financial aid grants to low-income students:
"So if that MAP Grant was to be reduced, I probably wouldn't be here."
The program ran out of money in March last spring, leaving about 150-thousand students, half of all who applied, without help. That number could grow this year's state budget cuts money for the grants by 14 percent.
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