Making College Affordable

For many women, a college degree is the key to higher earnings and a better life. A woman with a bachelor’s degree earns 78 percent more than a woman with only a high school education. But for a low-wage worker, the cost of tuition can be an insurmountable barrier, putting college and a brighter future out of reach. Access to financial aid is critical to overcoming this roadblock.

Women Employed is Illinois’ leading advocate for the financial aid that makes college accessible and affordable to low-income students. For more than two decades, we’ve been mobilizing our networks and collaborating with education and policy leaders to help more low-income students afford college. We’ve published research reports and policy briefs, lent our expertise to advisory committees, lobbied, and mobilized thousands of students on campuses across Illinois to raise their own voices and advocate for full funding of the Monetary Award Program (MAP), a need-based Illinois grant. In the last five years alone, our victories have protected more than $200 million in need-based financial aid, enabling hundreds of thousands of Illinois students to go to college.

We’re working with Illinois lawmakers to make sure funding for need-based financial aid is not only protected from cuts but increased, so that the roughly 150,000 eligible students who are denied each year when MAP funding runs out have a shot at a better future.

Each year, too many adult students miss out on the MAP grant because work and family responsibilities make it impossible to make the decision to go to college until later in the year, when MAP funding has already run out. So we’re working with state policymakers on a plan to reserve some MAP funding for students who apply in the summer.

We are committed to making college more accessible to adults and low-income students. Read our Vision for Higher Education.