public universities

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

State disinvestment in higher education has put a college degree out of reach for many Illinois students. That’s a key finding from a new series of reports from the Partnership for College Completion.

The “Priced Out” reports focus on the three groups most impacted by funding lapses: Black, Latinx and students who live in rural communities.

Cole Freeman, Data visualization done in collaboration with the Department of Computer Science at Northern Illinois University

A few years ago, when he was going to Yorkville High School, Matt Pitstick saw college recruiters roaming his school who surprised him and made his friends laugh. They were recruiters from a university more than 700 miles away: the University of Alabama.

"I remember when I first saw it, we all just joked about it -- like 'Haha yeah, the University of Alabama,'" he said. "But then you look into it and it's like, 'You know what, maybe that's not a bad idea.'"

Garrett Wise graduated from Northern Illinois University just over three years ago. As he strode across the stage and collected his Bachelor's degree in applied physics, he knew that, like most students, he accumulated student loan debt. He just didn't know how bad it was.

Every student who takes out federal student loans must complete so-called "exit counseling" after they graduate and before their first bill comes due. This is where Wise found out how much he'd pay per month and how much money the government expected him to make per year.

Flickr User Brent Hoard/ "ECU School of Education Class Room" (cc by 2.0)

For the past several years, Illinois has been losing more college students than any state except New Jersey. Last year, as higher education was starved by the state budget impasse, that trend continued.

Overall, undergraduate enrollment decreased by 2 percent, with even steeper drops at public universities and community colleges. 

Schools defying this trend include those focused on medical professions, such as City Colleges of Chicago's Malcolm X campus. Mark Potter, the provost, said its home in the medical district makes it more attractive.

Moody's Investors Service has placed six Illinois public universities on review for downgrade, impacting a total of approximately $2.2 billion of public university debt. According to a release issued by the company, the review is prompted by  "failure of the State of Illinois to enact a budget providing full operating funding to the universities for the current fiscal year 2017 and resulting operational and liquidity strains on the universities."

State Senator Suggests Public Universities Should Privatize

Mar 24, 2015
senate.gop

Less regulation and more freedom to make decisions -- these are among the things State Sen. Bill Brady says public universities would gain in Illinois if his bill to privatize them becomes law.

The Bloomington Republican introduced a bill asking the six public institutions to plan for a six-year evolution to privatization.

He says campuses already have been coping with falling state support for years. But Brady resists the suggestion his measure could accelerate the slide.

illinois.gov

More than 150,000 college students were left without financial help this spring when Illinois ran out of money for MAP Grants. For some students, MAP Grants are the only thing keeping them in school.