University president Gary Roberts invited Bradley students and faculty to a reception for Illinois state legislators on Monday in the Founders Room of the Hartmann Center.
State Senator Dave Koehler and Representatives Jehan Gordon-Booth and Mike Unes, a Bradley alumnus, all attended the event organized to thank them for their efforts in passing the state budget. After the state budget was passed in July, ending a two-year stalemat, students were again able to receive necessary Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) grants.
The Monetary Assistance Program helps out lower-income families afford their education through small, medium and large amounts of grants, Gerald Regep, senior political science and psychology double major, said. I know for my own personal situation, this helps defer the cost of education that would normally be a burden for me and my family.
As a result of the area legislators efforts, $10.5 million of these grants aided around 1,200 Bradley students this academic year and about 1,120 students last year.
In particular, [Id like to thank] Representative Gordon-Booth who was here today, Senator Koehler, but also, Id like to mention a shoutout to Representative Unes who actually voted to pass the budget vote with the funding for the MAP grants, and I believe was one of [only] 10 Republicans to do so, Regep said. To have someone who represents Bradley University as an alumni and the surrounding communities with a bipartisan effort really reflects well on his leadership and his capabilities as a legislator.
In addition to the legislators hard work, Brad McMillan, executive director for the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, said Bradley students also pushed the state to pass this budget.
I took a number of Bradley students down to Springfield to advocate for the MAP grant funds with our area central Illinois legislators, McMillan said. We also held a rally here on campus [last] November and invited legislators to sit in.
Regep took part in McMillans trip and said it was great to finally see their labors pay off.
Last year, I, along with fellow Bradley students, travelled down to Springfield to talk to different legislators about funding the MAP grants, Regep said. To see the funding was given this year really kind of showed how our efforts were rewarded.
McMillan also said he enjoyed seeing the students being given the opportunity to meet and to thank their representatives.
I think its great seeing all the students who are MAP grant recipients come and line up and thank the central Illinois legislators that had the courage to vote for the state budget, McMillan said. I know this means a lot to both the legislators and the students.
Regep said he is content with the current state of the budget but does not want to see legislators stop pushing for more financial aid.
I think the more that we can press forward into financing and making public [and] private higher education more affordable for families, especially for families who are considered working class and struggle to make ends meet, Regep said. I think thats the direction that we need to go forward with, but this is a good start.