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Senate Democrats: Students need to be a priority (AUDIO / VIDEO)

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SPRINGFIELD- Without a state budget for need-based state financial aid in place, Illinois’ public universities and community colleges paid roughly $182 million to allow students to continue their education last semester. However, half of the state higher education institutions will no longer be able to cover the costs for the spring semester.

Senate Higher Education Chairman Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) introduced Senate Bill 2226 to help alleviate some of the uncertainty for state universities.

“Governor Rauner has shown he values pre-K education by rolling back his changes in Child Care Assistance Program rules. He has shown he values K-12 education by signing that original appropriation bill,” McGuire said. “Senate Bill 2226 now gives the governor the opportunity to show he values post-secondary education."

Senate Bill 2226 allocates funds to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for MAP funding to cover claims made during the fall semester.

“Without crucial need-based funding, students will either be forced to drop out of school or consider expensive loans, said State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

“Without MAP grant funding, some students will be forced to either graduate with mountains of debt or lose out on valuable opportunities. There needs to be a budget in place to guarantee students have the services and support they need to be successful.”

State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) believes state universities and community colleges drive economic development across Illinois. Last year, both the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and Chicago campuses produced an $8.5 billion impact on the state’s economy.

“We need to consider the economic impact this has on institutions and the economy,” Cunningham said. “The longer these schools go without MAP grant funding, the more likely potential layoffs and pay cuts become. Some colleges and universities are economic drivers, and yet the governor decided to let them go without, which only multiplies the damage done to our state.”

The Senate passed MAP grant funding and is awaiting a vote in the House.

Senator Bennett describes the impact on students: