Colleges, Universities Still Unsure Of Funds In Midst Of Illinois Budget Situation

Aug 3, 2015

As the Illinois budget stalemate continues, universities and community colleges are already feeling the pain.

James Applegate
Credit Illinois Board of Higher Education

Last anybody heard, Gov. Bruce Rauner wanted to cut higher education spending drastically, by more than 30 percent. But with the budget stalled in the legislature, colleges have no idea how much money they’ll get. 

James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says this kind of chaos costs money. 

“This is an extremely inefficient way to run a shop,” Applegate said.

Take, for example, maintenance upgrades many campuses conduct during summers, when classrooms are empty.

“Basically, they were in the middle of doing this work,” Applegate said. “They stopped it — many of them as of June 30th — so these will now all cost more, in the long run, once you do that.”

Applegate says the budget quagmire has affected everything from MAP grants for low-income students to the recruitment and retention of faculty.

“The MAP students are the first casualties of this budget impasse,” Applegate said. “And of course they’re the low-income students, the students that are the most vulnerable. Now some of our institutions, I know, plan to front the money for the students, in the hopes that they’ll eventually get paid. Not all of them can afford to do that.”

More than 125,000 students are eligible for MAP grants this year.