higher education

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:


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.


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

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


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