The University of Illinois today announced a new financial aid program designed to make enrollment at its Urbana-Champaign campus more affordable for middle-class students. They’re calling this program Illinois Commitment, and Kevin Pitts, vice-provost for undergraduate education, says the goal is to persuade families they really can afford to send their kids to the state’s flagship university.
“Illinois Commitment pledges to cover tuition and mandatory fees for all students who have a family income below $61,000 per year,” Pitts says.
However, the program does not cover room and board, books, course fees, summer semesters, or study abroad. Although transfer students can use this program, the student must be no older than 24, and the aid will last a maximum of eight consecutive semesters.
To qualify, a family can’t have more than $50,000 in assets. That calculation doesn’t include their home, but most other assets would count.
Pitts says U of I expects the program will cost about $4 million when it starts next fall — enough to help an estimated 2,000 students, he says. The amount would then grow every year with the program.
“Once the program’s fully populated, which means once we have four years of students in the program, we estimate that it will be an extra $16 million dollars in campus investment in student financial aid,” Pitts says.
He says the U of I already provides some $138 million in financial aid when merit scholarships, tuition waivers, and other forms of aid are factored in.
“That’s why the additional investment from the campus is not larger — because we’re already doing a lot of this,” he says.
Any student eligible for Illinois Commitment will also get aid through the state’s Monetary Award Program (known as MAP grants) and the federal Pell grant program. Illinois Commitment would chip in enough to cover any gap in tuition.
But students are also required to live on campus for at least one year, paying a dorm fee that averages $11,000.
“If the student wins any supplemental scholarship — which might be a merit-based scholarship from the university, it might be a scholarship from a third party — that then could be used for room and board and books,” Pitts says.
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