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Higher Education

  • isac grads

    High school seniors, parents of students and prospective college students of all ages can make use of free workshops this October to help begin the 2019-2020 school year.
     
    October 2018 marks the third year of College Changes Everything Month, a project of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the state’s college access and financial aid agency. Oct. 1 marks the first day the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form becomes available for the following year’s fall semester. State aid like the Monetary Award Program (MAP grant) is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so students should complete their FAFSA as soon as possible in order to have the chance to access as much financial aid as possible. Parents should be aware that some of their financial information is necessary to fill out that form.
     
    "Navigating the college application and financial aid process can be tough for any family, but especially so for a family which never before has sent a child to college. That's why ISAC's College Changes Everything workshops are so necessary and so helpful,” said State Senator Pat McGuire, Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “In addition, Illinois distributes its Monetary Award Program need-based aid on a first-come, first-serve basis. Filing the FAFSA now greatly increases a qualified student's chance of getting a MAP grant before the cupboard is bare."
     
    During College Changes Everything Month, ISAC provides free workshops to students and their families at local high schools where they can receive hands-on instruction filling out college applications and their FAFSAs from college and financial aid experts.
     
    Search by ZIP Code for a free public event near you at studentportal/isac.org/events.

  • Sen. Pat McGuire

    SPRINGFIELD — The bicameral, bipartisan Higher Education Working Group chaired by State Senator Pat McGuire today announced a series of measures to help Illinois residents afford college and attain degrees.

    Two financial aid proposals highlight the package. House Bill 5020 will help students access four years of Monetary Award Program grants, giving students and their families assurance that a MAP grant won’t be “one and done.” Senate Bill 2927 incentivizes Illinois’ public universities to provide more scholarships using Institutional Matching, a new $25 million state fund. These scholarships will be available to families with annual incomes of up to $150,000 for a family of four.

    Other proposals developed by the six Democrats and six Republicans comprising the working group assist students transferring from community colleges to public universities and provide regulatory relief to Illinois’s 12 public university campuses.

    “This legislative package shows what happens when both parties work together toward a common goal,” McGuire said. “We want to make earning a community college or university degree in Illinois more certain and more affordable.”

    Details on the full slate of proposals can be found here.

  • Sen. Napoleon Harris IIISPRINGFIELD – State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) is lead sponsor of legislation that would require every community college and public university to offer a course studying the events of Black History.

    “Education is the only way we can combat negative African-American stereotypes seen on the news, social media and in movies,” Harris said. “It should be a priority for our universities to offer a course that teaches students about our culture and the contributions we’ve made to society.”

     

  • Asst. Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordSPRINGFIELD – While obtaining a college degree is increasingly vital to career advancement, low-income, racial minority and first-generation college students often struggle to transition into a college or university’s culture.

    A plan led by Illinois Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that was approved in the Senate Higher Education committee Tuesday seeks to ease the transition into college by allowing Illinois’ public universities to establish bridge programs. These programs would provide access, academic support and financial aid to underrepresented students.

    “There are still so many young people who are going to college for the first time and moving away from everything they are familiar with, and that can be a nerve-racking situation,” Lightford said. “We have a very diverse population in our state, and our universities should be focused on inclusion so that all young people benefit from the world-class education they offer.”

  • SenBennettSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) listened to the University of Illinois system administration testify before the Senate Appropriations II Committee today on their budget request for Fiscal Year 2019.

    “As we work towards a budget, I look forward to working with my colleagues to guarantee that the University of Illinois will acquire the funds it needs to maintain its position as one of the most prestigious universities in the Midwest and the nation,” Bennett said. “I’ve always believed that if we care about the future of our state, we must invest in its next generation and protect our universities and colleges.”

  • WIULess than a year after a bipartisan state budget deal restored some semblance of stability for the state’s public universities and colleges, school leaders say Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget proposal could be a devastating financial blow to their recovery.

    Rauner wants to dump state retirement costs back on the universities as part of a four-year plan to shift $2 billion worth of state costs onto public schools, universities and colleges. The practical result would be layoffs and program cuts along with potentially higher tuition for students.

  • castro 050417ELGIN – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) demanded today that the governor do his job and release the funds Harper and Elgin Community Colleges desperately need.  

    After months of negotiations, the General Assembly put together a responsible and bipartisan budget that included cuts, reforms and revenue. Although the budget included $225,000 for Harper and Elgin Community Colleges, the state has not released the funds.

    “I fought for a budget because I did not want to have this lingering uncertainty over Harper and Elgin Community Colleges and the work center,” Castro said. “It is important that we cover the cost of operating the Education and Work Center because it has a meaningful impact on the lives of the people in our community.”

    Harper College partnered with Elgin Community College and the Chicago Cook Workforce at the Hanover Park Education and Work Center to provide services to community members. The center provides a variety of career skills development and English as a Second Language, basic adult education and high school equivalency instructions.

    If the state does not release the funding, then the center might not be able to remain open beyond the fall semester.

    “I am tired of Governor Rauner neglecting his duties,” Castro said. “The two-year budget impasse had a shattering impact on colleges and universities in Illinois and if he doesn’t release these funds, he will leave a lasting and staggering effect on the economy in my district.”

  • mcguire 020817SPRINGFIELD — In light of an approved state budget that includes funding for state universities and Monetary Award Grants for college students, S&P Global Ratings announced it has upgraded the bond ratings of four Illinois universities and has taken three other universities off of its watch list for a potential downgrade.

    Illinois Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Pat McGuire said it’s the first sign of the road to fiscal recovery that universities face in the wake of a 736-day budget impasse that saw layoffs, program closures and students worrying over whether the financial aid the state had promised them would ever be paid.

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  •  universities

  • lecture hallSPRINGFIELD – As the White House rolls back federal protections for student loan borrowers across the nation, the Illinois State Senate sent a clear message Wednesday that it won’t succumb to pressure from loan services and their lobbyists.

    Legislation sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that would establish a student loan bill of rights in Illinois and help to protect students from predatory college lenders passed in the Senate Wednesday.

    “The fact that the student loan industry sent high-powered lobbyists to Springfield to fight against these practical, commonsense protections for middle- and low-income families tells me that we’re on the right track with this legislation,” Biss said.

    “Students are drowning in debt the second they complete their education. It can take decades to dig out from that kind of financial burden, and quite often students quickly fall behind on their payments or end up in default. This is no way to start a life, a career or a family.”

  • clayborne 050217SPRINGFIELD — Service members looking to obtain college credit for military courses may soon have an easier process when transferring credits to a public university or community college in Illinois.

    The proposal, sponsored by State Senator James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville), passed the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday. 

    “Providing our service members accessibility to higher education should be a priority of our state and our nation,” said Clayborne. “It is important we continue this trend by offering students a clear understanding of how their military courses transfer into our state’s universities and community colleges.”

    The measure would create the Educational Credit for Military Experience Act, which  would require the state’s public universities and community colleges to develop a policy for awarding college credit for military courses taken through the Armed Forces.

    House Bill 3701 will now be considered by the full Senate.

  • mcguire 020817SPRINGFIELD — Joining student activists as they visited Springfield to call for funding for higher education, State Sen. Pat McGuire asked them to tell Gov. Bruce Rauner about how the impasse is affecting them.

    “I’m going to ask you to teach,” said McGuire, D-Joliet. “I have become an attentive student of Governor Bruce Rauner. In his State of the State address, he said ‘Job creators get excited by term limits.’ You know that’s not true. Job creators get excited by a well-trained, well-educated workforce. I’m convinced the Governor does not know our lives from a hill of beans. The real Illinois is not people like himself, worth $700 million. It’s people trying to get by on $8.25 an hour. People who need Monetary Award Program grants to continue their education.”

    The Fund Our Future Rally drew students from Moraine Valley Community College, the City Colleges of Chicago, the University of Illinois, DePaul University and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

    McGuire asked students to “teach the governor” by giving him sharp, specific examples of what the budget impasse is doing to their education.

    “Trust your experience,” McGuire said. “He can’t dispute what you’ve been through. He can’t dispute what you’re after.”

  • Sen. Pat McGuire

    State universities have made efforts to cut, but warn that the state suffers

    SPRINGFIELD — Speaking after presidents from five state universities testified on how they’re responding to the lack of a state budget and the possibility of more reductions to come, State Sen. Pat McGuire said a generation of students are being harmed by the governor’s lack of a clear plan for higher education in Illinois.

    “We’ve heard of ‘thousands of decisions,’ as Northern Illinois University president Douglas Baker put, to rein in costs and streamline programs,” McGuire said following the hearing, in which presidents explained in detail how they are attempting to triage staff and programs for possible reduction or elimination. “That action at NIU and other state colleges is in sharp contrast to lack of any apparent plan for higher education from the Rauner administration other than to let schools wither.”

    Calling the Illinois House’s recently-passed stopgap measure “unsustainable,” Baker said universities need stability and predictability from state government. Speaking of years of reduced state funding for higher education, Baker said:

    “Unfortunately, these kinds of cuts hit those with the lowest financial ability the most. It hurts the most needy students the worst, but it impacts all of them.”

    “In the absence of any plan from the Rauner administration for how to stabilize and strengthen our state’s higher education system, I fear we’re creating a two-class higher education system in Illinois where those who can afford it will be able to earn college degrees, but those who can’t afford it are out of luck,” McGuire said.

    McGuire, D-Joliet, is chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

  • martinez sos 012517CHICAGO — Illinois Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to news that Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) will cancel three days of classes to cut costs as Governor Rauner has failed to produce a state budget that supports higher education.

    “As a proud graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, it breaks my heart to see my alma mater facing this hardship because we have a governor whose refusal to negotiate a budget is dismantling higher education in Illinois.

    A high percentage of Northeastern Illinois University students are Latinos, making it a critically important institution for advancing academic and career opportunities for many students in my district and in the Latino community. I support Northeastern Illinois University Interim President Richard J. Helldobler’s call for the state to fund higher education. The state needs to support state schools.

    Sadly, what’s happening at Northeastern Illinois University is happening to colleges and universities throughout Illinois. Classes being cancelled, furloughs, faculty layoffs and students deciding to go to colleges and universities in other states has become too common. Governor, it’s time to do your job and start supporting higher education.”

    NEIU’s El Centro campus, located in Martinez’s district, has been a focal point for access to higher education opportunities in the Latino community.

    NEIU, which serves roughly 10,000 students, also recently closed for spring break to implement a weeklong furlough program and has had to let employees go due to the lack of a state budget.

  • Sen. Pat McGuire“We need progressive agendas like the one being put forth this morning.”

    SPRINGFIELD — With no direction from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration on how it will address a lack of funding for higher education that has persisted since Jan. 1 in the absence of a state budget, Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Pat McGuire called for cooperation on a new series of proposals aimed at breaking the state budget gridlock.

    Speaking alongside other lawmakers from the House and Senate, McGuire said the newly introduced Comeback Agenda is a necessary compromise at a time when universities and community colleges remain adrift and uncertain due to the governor’s refusal to discuss funding for the current fiscal year.

  • manar 031617SPRINGFIELD – A measure designed to fill a projected workforce shortage in rural Illinois while connecting students with good-paying careers in health care advanced out of a Senate committee this week.

    Senate Bill 888, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), would allow community colleges to award four-year nursing degrees in an effort to deepen the pool of qualified registered nurses available to be hired by Illinois health care employers.

    According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree today is considered the national entry-level educational standard for a registered nurse. A 2015 report by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation indicated that about a third of registered nurses age 55 and older planned to retire within five years, prompting concerns about a statewide nursing shortage.

    Manar said the district he represents, which spans rural and underserved areas of downstate Illinois, stands to be especially hard hit by the nursing shortage.

    Currently in Illinois, only universities may award bachelor’s degrees in nursing, but they have not been able to address the nursing shortage in some areas of the state.

    Community colleges are well suited to help four-year universities ensure hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and medical offices throughout the state have a pool of well-qualified nursing applicants from which to hire, Manar said, adding that it’s also a good way to stem the tide of young people leaving Illinois in search of jobs.

    “This approach may be outside of the box for Illinois, but nationally we would not be an outlier. Eleven other states do this type of thing with their community colleges,” Manar said.

    “This discussion is about something much bigger than simply the traditional mission of Illinois’ universities and community colleges,” he said. “This is about offering excellent health care, planning for the future, adapting to changing critical workforce needs, offering affordable options for job training, putting people in good-paying jobs and keeping young people in the communities – and the state –where they grew up. These are all vitally important issues in Illinois, and this legislation touches on all of them.”

    Senate Bill 888 grants 20 Illinois community colleges the ability to award bachelor of science degrees in nursing and sets standards for establishing nursing programs, including accreditation, documenting unmet workforce needs and more.

    It also calls for a four-year review of the effort by the Illinois Community College Board, including a comprehensive statewide evaluation of newly created programs and a written report submitted to the State Board of Higher Education, the governor and both chambers of the General Assembly before July 1, 2022.

    The legislation does not require community colleges to offer the degrees. State money may not be used to establish or maintain the program, according to the legislation.

    The measure advanced out of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee on Tuesday.

  • martinez 021617SPRINGFIELD — After voting to fund human services and higher education as part of a proposed Senate “grand bargain” package, Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) issued the following statement:

    “Illinois has gone too long without a budget and needs one now. The harm not having a state budget is causing to human service organizations, college students and the state’s finances cannot continue. It is time to compromise and put the people first by getting a budget done. Today, as part of an effort to help people in my district and throughout Illinois, I voted to fund higher education and key human service programs that help our seniors, people dealing with addiction and victims of sexual abuse. I will continue working as hard as I can to get Illinois a budget.”

    Senate Bill 6 provides the needed spending authorization to finish out the second half of the current budget year. Key components funded include higher education and human services.

  • hunter 022817SPRINGFIELD – Today, State Senator Mattie Hunter and the Illinois Senate voted on pieces of the bipartisan grand bargain, a package of deals to end the budget stalemate.

    Many public universities, senior and mental health services, addiction centers, and other programs have gone without state funding since Jan. 1, when the emergency budget deal expired.

    “It’s time to better serve our students and residents by replenishing the services that have been taken away due to the financial drought,” Sen. Hunter said. “Today in the Senate, both parties put aside partisan politics and worked to pass reforms that will help the residents and businesses that have been suffering.”

    The grand bargain allocates funding to higher education, human services and also introduces various sources that aim to bring revenue to the state. 

    The budget deal is designed to ensure funding through the rest of the 2017 fiscal year, which ends June 30.

  • steans 022817SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement on today’s voting on the Senate grand bargain:

    Today the Illinois Senate began voting on the bipartisan grand bargain, moving one step closer to providing Illinoisans fiscal stability.

    The appropriations bill we passed today ensures social service providers can keep their doors open, funds public universities and community colleges to the level they saw in 2015 when we last had a complete budget, and provides MAP grant funding for Illinois residents pursuing a degree within the state.

    As a legislative body, we worked together on the grand bargain and compromised on many of the big issues facing our state. I am glad that we were able to push past differing political ideology and come together for real solutions to help struggling businesses, residents and families.