End is near for legislative scholarships

May 22, 2012

Governor Pat Quinn says he plans to sign the measure sent to him by Illinois lawmakers. The bill would eliminate the controversial perk.

Each year, lawmakers are allowed to award tuition waivers to students in their districts. But critics say they often go to students whose parents are well-connected with politicians. Republican House member Jim Sacia of Pecatonica says the program should not be eliminated just because some of his colleagues abused it. He says in his district, superintendents choose who should get the scholarships.

"They chose them based on merit, they chose them based on ability, they chose them based on the simple knowledge that we were selecting them in the right way."

Other supporters of the program say it helps students who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend college. But Democratic Representative Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates says the program is outdated.

"A hundred years ago when this program was first put in place it probably made a lot of sense, you had a selected few who can actually attend college and can afford it. That's not the case anymore. We have more state colleges, we have MAP grants, we have a lot of other financial aid that these students can use."

Governor Quinn says the decision to end the Legislature's tuition waiver program makes it a good day for Illinois taxpayers. He added there is "no place for a political scholarship program in Illinois."