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'Largest increase in two decades': Pritzker promotes proposed higher education budget at NIU

 Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker stands at a podium alongside state lawmakers at Northern Illinois University
Peter Medlin
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker at Northern Illinois University

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker spoke about his proposed budget for higher education at Northern Illinois University on Tuesday.

Pritzker’s proposed budget would boost higher-ed funding 7% -- which he says would be the largest percentage increase in two decades. That includes $100 million more for the Monetary Award Program, or MAP.

“We're all aimed at basically providing median income households the ability to go to college. I would like to make it free [for] everybody at median income and below,” said the second-term Democrat. “We're getting there by increasing MAP grants and holding steady on tuition, and Pell grants coming from Washington D.C.”

The governor also talked about how increased funding for higher-ed programs like MAP could allow more Illinois students to stay in-state for college. A few years ago, a record number of Illinois students were fleeing the state for higher-ed opportunities elsewhere.

“While college freshmen enrollment went down 2.4% across the nation, Illinois college freshman enrollment was up an average 5%,” he said. “Think about that difference.”

Overall, the additional money in the proposed budget would mean MAP funding has gone up 75% from Pritzker’s first budget when he took office in 2019. He said every student eligible to receive MAP grants will get them. There were years during the state budget impasse where about 100,000 eligible students wouldn’t receive a dime.

Pritzker also talked about his “Rebuild Illinois” capital plan, which included over $2.5 billion for college infrastructure projects. At NIU, over $130 million of that has gone towards the construction of the university’s Health Information and Technology Center and Center for Community Sustainability.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.