Opinion: More investment needed for independent colleges, universities

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After so much uncertainty and so many challenges, this should be a time of hope and optimism for students attending Illinois institutions of higher education – especially, the independent, not-for-profit colleges and universities I represent in Springfield.

For many, it is a time of looking to better days ahead. The Illinois state budget just signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker includes a dramatic increase in funding for the Monetary Award Program – the critical lifeline for so many needy Illinois students who can use the grant at one of the state’s high-quality independent colleges and universities.

An increase of $122 million in the MAP grant program for lower-income students will mean the maximum award per student could climb above $7,000 – a significant increase over last year’s “effective” MAP grant cap of $5,340. This funding increase will provide for more MAP grants to eligible students at public or independent colleges and universities, at a higher average grant amount. As recently as 2018, almost 100,000 students who were eligible for a grant lost out due to funding shortfalls.

Millions of new dollars also will head to institutions to increase minority teachers, nursing education, and career training for health care workers. That’s vitally important, as the state’s independent colleges and universities award nearly 40 percent of all teaching degrees, as well as 54 percent of all health-related degrees.

Our federation has long called for steady, predictable and meaningful increases in MAP funding as a direct way to benefit all Illinois colleges and universities, public and private. When students have more aid, it greatly increases the chances they’ll not only attend higher education but successfully persist in getting a college degree, maximizing the state’s…

Region: Metro East,City: Alton,News

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April 29, 2022 at 11:50PM

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