higher education

MAP Grants On Their Way To Illinois Universities

Apr 28, 2016
Jenna Dooley

Illinois' Comptroller says universities will soon receive stopgap MAP grant money.

Leslie Munger says the Illinois Student Assistance Commission sent $164 million dollars in grant vouchers to her office. 

Munger says her office turned around the payments immediately, but she also calls on lawmakers to approve a long-term solution.

“It is critical that they now finish the job and pass a comprehensive balanced budget that allows us to keep our promises not only to students,” Munger said in a news release.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Governor Bruce Rauner today is approving a compromise between Republicans and Democrats that sends emergency money to public universities.

    

But that compromise doesn’t mean the two parties are getting along any better.

This state money is coming just as Chicago State University had said it would close its doors Friday.

The top House Republican Jim Durkin says it took Chicago State’s closing to get Democrats and House Speaker Michael Madigan to quit playing games.

Illinois college students will march for higher education funding and MAP grants in Springfield next week.

At least 60 students plan to take part in the march. That’s according to the march’s Facebook event.

The “March for MAP” was created by a University of Illinois Springfield student. The event was inspired by the legislature's failure to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto to a bill to fund MAP grants.

Many Illinois community colleges and universities will not cover low-income tuition waivers in the fall, unless they get state money.

    

That's the message from higher education leaders to the state's 125,000 students who are eligible for the monetary assistance program, or MAP, grants.

Public colleges and universities that have so far covered the cost for MAP students are sounding the alarm that they may not continue.

Higher Education Leaders Discuss Budget Fears In Springfield

Mar 10, 2016
State of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers heard Thursday from an assortment of higher education leaders asking for funding.

They used terms like “starving,” “dismantling” and “economic suicide” as they tried to persuade state senators to find some way to heal the budget impasse. 

One of the last witnesses was Eric Zarnikow, director of the state agency that runs the Monetary Award Program. MAP grants help needy college kids with tuition.

Zarnikow quoted his mother, who he says always warned him not to eat the seed corn.

WIUM

Higher education continues to be caught in Illinois lawmakers' political crossfire.

And not just because the House failed to override a veto of legislation that would have allowed at least SOME funding for the first time in eight months.

Lawmakers spent most of yesterday debating how to pay for Illinois' colleges and universities --- with nothing material to show for it by the time they'd adjourned.

Then, once the Capitol cleared out, an evening email from House Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown announcing a "new compromise effort."

Illinois Board of Higher Education

The budget that Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed this week recommends a 16 percent cut to higher education. This year's proposed cut sounds gentler than the 32 percent reduction Rauner recommended last year. But instead of being spread across higher education, virtually all of the pain would fall upon the state's universities. 

These proposed reductions come after higher education has gone without state funding of any kind for more than seven months.

A group of Democratic lawmakers yesterday made a public ceremony out of delivering legislation to Gov. Bruce Rauner's office.

    

They're attempting to persuade him to fund MAP grants, which help low-income students cover tuition at Illinois colleges and universities.

Students and employees from several colleges applauded as State Senator Donne Trotter marched into Rauner's office.

Allen Miggins, an admissions counselor from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, said the ongoing budget impasse is making his job difficult on many levels.

College of DuPage

College campuses (and the politics behind them) are taking center stage in Springfield's festering stalemate.

Budget gridlock has kept money from going to higher education since July. Then, in a matter of hours on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers approved a plan that would pump $720 million dollars into the system. 

Republicans are calling it a "cruel hoax" that's giving students false hope, even though they, too, say they want to help higher ed. It's a scenario that demonstrates the partisan tensions -- and politics -- at play.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

The president of the Federation of Independent Colleges is calling the lack of funding for higher education in Illinois a "crisis."

Dave Tretter's organization represents about 60 private colleges that get no state funding other than MAP grants -- the Monetary Award Program funds awarded to low-income students.

With the state in its seventh month without a budget, many schools have told students they'll have to repay the portion of tuition the state failed to cover.

Tretter says students will turn to neighboring states.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

Public universities have responded to Gov. Bruce Rauner's criticism of their spending habits.

The Republican governor's deputy chief of staff sent a memo to lawmakers yesterday criticizing hefty tuition hikes over the decade and wasteful spending on administration and executive compensation.

But the memo didn't mention steep declines in state funding during the same period.

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen says the school has taken steps since Rauner assumed office, like putting a freeze on hiring and tuition for instate students.

Legislation filed yesterday asks the state to provide $168 million in tuition for low-income college students who were promised MAP grants last fall.

Thousands of students across the state rely on grants from the Monetary Award Program to pay up to 5-thousand-dollars of their tuition and fees.

But MAP grants have been a casualty of the state's budget stalemate, now in its seventh month.

Lawmakers have filed at least three separate measures trying to fund MAP, including a new plan in the Senate to repay colleges for floating MAP students through the fall semester.

University of Illinois

Illinois public universities are using their reserves to survive while Illinois operates without a budget. But University of Illinois president Tim Killeen says burning through savings at a rate of $76 million per month is not sustainable. 

“It is time to fix this,” Killeen said. “My expectation is that there will be a good outcome or a reasonable outcome in the January/February time frame, at which time we will pick up the ball and run and University of Illinois will go from strength to strength, I assure you of that.” 

Higher Ed Focus Of Illinois Legislative Meeting

Nov 9, 2015
State of Illinois

Illinois legislators will return to Springfield Tuesday ... with no prospect of finalizing a budget for the state. 

So what will they do during the one-day session?

Steve Brown, state House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman, says the plight of Illinois universities and community colleges will be in the spotlight during that meeting.

Brian Mackey

Illinois has gone more than three months without a budget, but state government is anything but shut down.

Court orders and existing law made it possible for the largest chunks of the state's financial obligations to be paid ... except for the state's 12 public colleges and universities. That includes the University of Illinois, where Governor Bruce Rauner dedicated on Friday the opening of a veteran’s center on the school's Urbana campus.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

llinois’ truth-in-tuition law was designed to keep college affordable. But it might be having the opposite effect.

  Since 2003, Illinois parents have banked on the law that guarantees their kids’ tuition rate  will remain at the same rate for at least four years. James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says that allows families to plan their finances, making the state’s public universities an attractive option. But think about it:

illinois.edu

As the cost of going to college continues to rise, Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to cut higher education funding by more than 30 percent.

One program already affected by cuts – and likely to be cut even more – is the state's Monetary Award Program for low-income students, known as the MAP grant.

Jennifer Delaney, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Illinois flagship campus, told lawmakers last week that MAP grants now are given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wisconsin Lawmakers Set To Make Deep Higher Ed Cuts

Jun 1, 2015
Wikipedia

As Illinois lawmakers deal with the final details of a state budget, Wisconsin’s legislature is poised to make deep cuts in university spending. 

Wisconsin’s legislative budget-writing committee has voted to cut the University of Wisconsin System by $250 million.  It also moved to eliminate university tenure in state law in an attempt to save Wisconsin some money.

State Higher Education Budget Remains In ‘Balancing Act’

May 19, 2015
state of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers get back to work this week, with about two weeks left in their spring session to finalize a budget. 

The budget was also on Governor Bruce Rauner’s mind when he visited Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale campus last weekend to deliver a graduation speech.

"We are in that balancing act right now,” Rauner said. “Everybody's going to have to give a little bit. And that's the way the political process should work. We'll come up with bipartisan solutions that are really a compromise."

Public University Presidents Protest Higher Ed Budget Cuts

Mar 22, 2015
State of Illinois

Presidents from three universities met with lawmakers yesterday to object to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget. The proposal includes a nearly 32 percent funding cut for public universities.

Illinois State University says it might have to cut 400 jobs. But University of Illinois President Bob Easter told Senator Chapin Rose, a Republican from Mahomet, that relief from procurement rules could save the U of I 70 million dollars.

Other school presidents have blamed procurement rules for delaying projects and driving up costs.

Rauner Proposes Deep Spending Cuts In First Budget Address

Feb 18, 2015
twitter.com/BruceRauner

Gov. Rauner presented his first budget proposal to lawmakers Wednesday.

READ THE BUDGET PLAN

Illinois’ finances are ailing. That’s been a story for years, but the situation got a lot worse at the beginning of the year when a tax cut took effect.

The Republican is proposing significant cuts to everything from healthcare for the poor to colleges and universities.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Democrats continued approving a new state budget on party-line votes. The Senate approved spending plans for education --  from elementary and high schools to colleges and universities -- with funding pretty much at last year's level.

Cuts proposed earlier this year by Governor Pat Quinn did not materialize, partly because Illinois collected more tax money than it expected in April.

Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, says funding for higher education is critical because it's tied to the problem of unemployment.

Amanda Vinicky

Although they're facing budget cuts, universities and community colleges say they're willing to begin taking on employees' pension costs.  The state covers the employers' share of retirement benefits for Illinois' public schools, colleges and universities.

WEB EXTRA: NIU Pension Overhaul Website

House Speaker Mike Madigan is insistent the state stop.

Moody's

Moody's Investors Service is taking a pessimistic view of American colleges and universities. The agency says repeated increases in tuition are partly to blame.

NIU Media Services

Illinois' public colleges and universities are still trying to work with a new law that ties state funding to student performance. But it hasn't been easy to measure performance in a way that's equally valid across the state's dozen public university campuses. Illinois' program is specifically meant to reward schools that help low-income students, and those from the first generation in their family to go to college.

University of Illinois

George Reid came to the Illinois Board of Higher Education in December 2010. He'd been a top official at a similar agency in Maryland. Less than two years later, Reid says he's resigning for personal reasons.

Rockford College Changing Name

Oct 3, 2012
Rockford.edu

Rockford College trustees have approved changing the institution's name to Rockford University.  According to the school's website, work to fully complete the transition will be taking place from now until July 1, 2013 and the school will proceed with submitting all formal petitions for university designation to the State of Illinois and all accrediting agencies.

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