Dusty Rhodes

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The federal government moved up the date that students can submit the Free Application For Federal Student Aid. 

The old FAFSA application period opened on January 1, and you couldn't complete the form until you filed your taxes. But as of last year, the federal government decided to accept "prior prior" tax returns, which meant families could file as early as Oct. 1. Carolyn Schloemann, financial aid director at the University of Illinois Springfield, said some people take that start date very seriously.

Carter Staley/NPR Illinois

Illinois’s new school funding plan — approved in August and hailed as a historic change — relies on the legislature to give every school the same state aid it got last year, plus push another $350 million through a new formula. That $350 million is crucial because it’s the part designed to address the inequity that has plagued Illinois schools for decades.

State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, wants to make sure lawmakers don't skip that step. She filed a measure Monday tying it to a tax break for those who provide private school scholarships.

Rockford Public Schools

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he's filing a measure designed to launch major changes in higher education.

Citing the high out-migration of students to other states, Rose wants to make it easier for Illinois students to enter state universities.

He aims to create a common application form for all 12 public university campuses and guarantee acceptance for any student who finished high school with a B average.

Shortly after Illinois lawmakers approved a new school funding plan, the state's top education official announced she was leaving to work for a national non-profit. Today is her first day on her new job.

 

Beth Purvis has joined the Kern Family Foundation, a Wisconsin-based philanthropy group that has given at least half a million dollars to Gov. Scott Walker and legislative candidates who support school vouchers.

One promise heard repeatedly during debate over the state's new school funding plan was that no schools would get less funding than before. But lawmakers siphoned $300 million from a fund that schools and local governments rely upon.

It was part of a separate action implementing the state budget. Vic Zimmerman is superintendent of Monticello schools. He says that fund represents 40% of his budget. 

"We certainly now have huge red numbers because of the divergence to CPPRT and the estimate for this year compared to last year," Zimmerman said.

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