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Illinois GOP Proposes Plan To Reduce College Costs

Chelsey Fulbright

Illinois House Republicans are pushing a proposal that aims to reduce higher education costs for middle-class students.IllIn between special sessions dealing with the state’s pension crisis, House GOP members have been out promoting a plan they say would make college a little more affordable for students from middle-class families.

One bill would create a one-thousand dollar tax credit for families with an annual income less than 150-thousand dollars. These credits would apply to schools where MAP grants are allowed, but those who receive MAP funding would not be eligible. Another measure would expand the number of college savings programs that offer tax deductions.

One of the co-sponsors of the legislation is DeKalb-area Representative Bob Pritchard, who sits on the higher education committee:

“There’s a lot of students who start [attending] college or universities and aren’t able to continue because they run out of money and they don’t to incur the kind of borrowing that a lot of students incur” Pritchard said.

Pritchard and several other northern Illinois Republicans recently touted the proposal with the backing of NIU’s Student Association. NIU Spokesman Paul Palian says the state’s disinvestment in higher education is being felt by students through increasing tuition costs

“Obviously institutions cannot, nor should they, pass along all those costs to students” Palian said.

NIU recently approved a 2-percent tuition hike for incoming freshman and graduate students. Meanwhile, the House Republicans hope their plan will receive consideration during the fall veto session.

Plan’s cost

House minority leader Tom Cross estimates the plan will cost around 87-million dollars annually. To pay for it, he says approving a pension overhaul would be a big help.

Cross says another possibility would involve dedicating a portion of the revenue stream from a proposed gambling expansion. But Democratic leaders questioned the idea of spending money from a source that has yet to materialize.