higher education

College of DuPage

College campuses (and the politics behind them) are taking center stage in Springfield's festering stalemate.

Budget gridlock has kept money from going to higher education since July. Then, in a matter of hours on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers approved a plan that would pump $720 million dollars into the system. 

Republicans are calling it a "cruel hoax" that's giving students false hope, even though they, too, say they want to help higher ed. It's a scenario that demonstrates the partisan tensions -- and politics -- at play.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

The president of the Federation of Independent Colleges is calling the lack of funding for higher education in Illinois a "crisis."

Dave Tretter's organization represents about 60 private colleges that get no state funding other than MAP grants -- the Monetary Award Program funds awarded to low-income students.

With the state in its seventh month without a budget, many schools have told students they'll have to repay the portion of tuition the state failed to cover.

Tretter says students will turn to neighboring states.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

Public universities have responded to Gov. Bruce Rauner's criticism of their spending habits.

The Republican governor's deputy chief of staff sent a memo to lawmakers yesterday criticizing hefty tuition hikes over the decade and wasteful spending on administration and executive compensation.

But the memo didn't mention steep declines in state funding during the same period.

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen says the school has taken steps since Rauner assumed office, like putting a freeze on hiring and tuition for instate students.

Legislation filed yesterday asks the state to provide $168 million in tuition for low-income college students who were promised MAP grants last fall.

Thousands of students across the state rely on grants from the Monetary Award Program to pay up to 5-thousand-dollars of their tuition and fees.

But MAP grants have been a casualty of the state's budget stalemate, now in its seventh month.

Lawmakers have filed at least three separate measures trying to fund MAP, including a new plan in the Senate to repay colleges for floating MAP students through the fall semester.

University of Illinois

Illinois public universities are using their reserves to survive while Illinois operates without a budget. But University of Illinois president Tim Killeen says burning through savings at a rate of $76 million per month is not sustainable. 

“It is time to fix this,” Killeen said. “My expectation is that there will be a good outcome or a reasonable outcome in the January/February time frame, at which time we will pick up the ball and run and University of Illinois will go from strength to strength, I assure you of that.” 

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