Governor’s proposed higher ed funding boost could pave the way to community college for more low-income students

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker wants to add an additional $100 million for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants in the upcoming state budget.

Illinois Central College president Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey said the boost could be particularly beneficial for students who also qualify for federal Pell grants,

“If you are an individual of meager means, of poverty, between MAP and Pell (grants), you could attend ICC for free,” said Quirk-Bailey.

She said the MAP grant expansion also covers short-term certificates for people seeking to upgrade their skillset quickly, rather than in the traditional two or four-year increments, including those in apprenticeship programs. MAP money is often already allocated before some students apply.

There’s also a million dollars worth of annual scholarships offered by ICC, and an additional $11 million in grant programs.

“We’re hoping that with this increase that we can bring a lot more funding to many more regional students to then move into ICC,” she said.

Illinois Central College also offers a child care center on its East Peoria campus for parents who enroll in classes. Child care vouchers are also available through the state for parents who can’t line up their schedules with the child care center’s hours.

“Whatever those obstacles are that are keeping you from moving forward with your life, come talk to us at ICC, because we have an awful lot of programs to help people figure it out and move forward,” Quirk-Bailey said.

Enrollment trends

Illinois Central College’s enrollment has fallen by 22.6% over the past three years. That’s become a major issue in the campaigns of ICC board of trustees candidates, but Quirk-Bailey said those numbers should be looked at with some caveats.

Enrollment is tracked by the state using a metric called the “10th day census.” Essentially, that’s a headcount of the number of students a given institution has on the 10th day of the semester. But Quirk-Bailey argues that’s not the best way to measure the number of students ICC serves.

“We have in the past several years been moving toward a different type of schedule to help our students. So we are doing far more courses in an eight week format than in a 16 week format. So when you take a look at that number 10 days in, we have a whole 15% of our classes that aren’t included in that because they haven’t started yet,” she said.

She said that while some students are indeed withdrawing from classes over the course of a semester, enrollment at the end of a semester at ICC is typically higher than it is at the 10th day census as a result of the way ICC structures its class loads.

“Unfortunately, how we measure enrollment in higher ed hasn’t caught up with those with those concepts,” she said.

Cradle to Career

Illinois Central College is going for the U.S. Department of Education’s $30 million Promise Neighborhoods grant for a third time this year. The grant will fund ICC’s Cradle to Career program, which is focused on providing supports for Peoria’s 61605 ZIP code. Decades of disinvestment have led to population losses and high poverty rates in the area.

Quirk-Bailey said in both of the previous two attempts, the application has performed well, but came up just short in a panel of three reviewers.

“It’s not a matter of in my mind if we’re gonna get this grant, it’s a matter of when,” she said.

Quirk-Bailey said a $500,000 grant secured by former Congresswoman Cheri Bustos was used to gather a dataset that will bolster ICC’s case this time around.

“We will be able to, from that, determine exactly what our processes should be, what those job descriptions and job roles should be. So we’re basically trying out everything. There was a heavy IT component to Promise Neighborhoods. And this information will also help us determine what that hub should be and how it should be accessible to people in 61605,” she said.

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April 4, 2023 at 06:41PM

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