$180 million more sought for Illinois higher education – The Pantagraph


The Illinois Board of Higher Education is asking for funding increases for public institutions in the state and for grant funding for low-income students.

The board unanimously approved its annual budget request on Wednesday during a meeting at Governors State University. 

The budget request goes to the General Assembly and governor for their consideration in passing the state budget later this year. It includes a 7.5% increase in the total direct funding for the state’s public universities and community colleges. Last year’s budget included a 5% increase.

The total proposed budget is around $2.5 billion, an increase of $180 million from the current year budget.

The request distributes the increase to the public universities based on the percentage and number of students at each institution receiving federal Pell grants, IBHE Executive Director Ginger Ostro said during the meeting. The board is using the federal grants, which are awarded to students with great financial need, as a temporary funding procedure while the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding seeks a more permanent solution.

Having that measure to move toward equitable funding was a deciding factor for board member Jennifer Garrison.

“If an equitable distribution had not been presented, my vote would have been ‘no,’” she said.

However, she also noted that last year the board had recommended increases using this formula, only for the legislature and governor to implement a 5% across the board increase.

During an appearance at Illinois State University on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks about higher education funding included in his budget proposal.

Under the recommendation approved on Wednesday, Illinois State University would receive a 10.7% increase in its funding from IBHE, from $73.1 million to $80.6 million. ISU President Terri Goss Kinzy serves on the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding.

The agency is also continuing to ask for more money for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) which provides grants for Illinois students to attend college and university. This year’s budget included a historic $122 million increase in the program, expand award size and eligibility. The coming year’s budget request includes a $50 million increase, to $651 million.

The continued increase in MAP funding received support from Advance Illinois, a statewide organization that advocates for improving equity in public education. Jelani Saadiq, director of government relations, spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting to praise the move. 

“It is an important lever for increasing access to higher education,” he said. “(…)For years, Illinois has under invested in this program.”

While the governor has not outlined specifics, Pritzker has said that his priorities include more support for higher education and those pursuing it. “Since I took office we’ve increased scholarships by more than 50%,” he said during his Jan. 9 inaugural address. “Now let’s focus on making tuition free for every working-class family.”

Contact Connor Wood at (309)820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter:@connorkwood

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January 18, 2023 at 07:03PM

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