Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) discusses his sponsorship of SB 2043 and the importance of MAP grant funding on the Senate floor on January 28, 2016.
Higher Education Committee chair Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) speaks to the importance of MAP grants on the Senate chamber floor on January 28, 2016.
Today, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 2043, which funds Monetary Award Program grants for the 2015-16 academic year as well provides money for community colleges and vocational and GED training as well. State Senator Pat McGuire rose on the Senate floor in support of the legislation. Below is the audio of his speech.
UPDATE 2:07 p.m. Jan. 28:
SPRINGFIELD — Thousands of college students in Illinois who have been without their promised financial aid for months are now a step closer to receiving it.
State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) voted to pass Senate Bill 2043, which authorizes full funding of Monetary Award Program grants for the 2015-16 academic year.
“These students have faith that earning a degree will help them and our state flourish,” McGuire said. “They also have faith – which I heard expressed at four hearings across Illinois – that the state of Illinois will fulfill its promise to help them pay for college. The General Assembly voted today to honor that. Now it’s the governor’s turn.”
Last May, the General Assembly passed MAP grant legislation, which the governor vetoed. And in August, SB 2043 stalled in the House. This version of SB 2043 that passed the House on Thursday not only includes MAP grant funding but money for community colleges and career-technical and adult education as well.
With the Senate’s final approval Thursday, the measure now goes to the governor.
A measure to immediately release $168 million to benefit thousands of college students in Illinois has been filed in the Illinois State Senate.
State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) is chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee and the sponsor of Senate Bill 2226, which would cover the costs that colleges and universities around the state absorbed last fall fronting Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants that their students depend on.
“Illinois needs to invest in the higher education of its residents in order to get back to full strength,” McGuire said. “Failing to provide the financial aid for which 130,000 students qualified threatens those students, the schools they attend, and the future of our state.
Twice in 2015, the Illinois Senate passed legislation to fund MAP:
During the fall semester, colleges and universities around the state took on the cost of the absent MAP grants. However, dozens of schools recently said they can’t do the same for the current spring semester.
“MAP isn’t about athletics, new buildings, faculty positions, or administrators’ pensions,” McGuire said. “MAP is about the opportunity to learn. It’s about students who want to do more in life for themselves and their state.”
SB 2226 will be in committee for debate soon and goes into effect immediately on passage.
At a rally with more than 300 college students, Sen. Pat McGuire speaks in favor of restoring funds for MAP Grants.
Across the country, tuition costs and students loans are soaring, but in Illinois, the problem has been further compounded by another issue. Students who receive financial aid from the state’s Monetary Award Program remain in limbo because the governor vetoed their funding.
Public colleges and universities have been fronting the costs to cover the MAP grants through the fall semester, but have indicated that generous gesture simply cannot continue. Last year, MAP grants assisted over 136,000 students in affording college.
Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) is the chairman of the Higher Education Committee, and has been a vocal advocate for these students.
CHICAGO – In an effort to reduce administrative costs and help hold the line on college tuition growth, State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18) has proposed a series of reforms in how higher education executives in Illinois are compensated. These reforms were sparked by a report revealing inappropriate practices, including the recent scandals at the College of DuPage.
“Institutions of higher learning in our state have been plagued by recent controversies involving mismanagement or misconduct by college presidents, which cost taxpayers and tuition-payers millions of dollars in legal fees and severance payouts," Cunningham said. "We need to reform our laws to ensure more transparency and accountability in the administration of our public colleges and universities."
Legislation proposed by the senator would create more transparency in the hiring and contracting process for executives by requiring the terms of contracts to be publicly disclosed before being approved. Legislation also would make it so that perks that are often given to university presidents, such as car and housing allowances, could not count as pensionable income.
“Illinois has several excellent institutions of higher learning," Cunningham said. "It's disappointing that we need to focus on these negative issues. But it is necessary that we learn from past transgressions and reform our laws to ensure that Illinois colleges and universities are above board in all of their financial practices.”
Cunningham’s reform package, Senate Bills 2155-2159 are currently in the State Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education Executive Compensation, which is chaired by Senator Cunningham.
SPRINGFIELD – Students from across the state visited the state capitol building today to encourage legislators to fully fund the higher education and MAP Grant line items for the FY16 budget. Victoria Prince is a University of Illinois student from Chicago. As a MAP Grant recipient, she was one of the students on hand today at the capitol to explain her need for MAP grants.
“My freshman year I received almost $5,000 from the MAP Grant,” Prince said. “It really helped me afford school and I don’t think I would have selected to stay in state without it. I know a lot of stories about how tuition out of state is better just because they have more financial aid than Illinois is currently providing; so that’s why I think higher education is so important, to keep a lot of students in Illinois and keep up Illinois’ economy.”
State colleges and universities have been fronting the bill for MAP Grants for the first semester of the school year, but college and university presidents have advised the General Assembly that their facilities can no longer shoulder that burden as they move into the spring semester.
Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) was an early advocate for higher education funding in the spring.
“As the son of an immigrant, I understand first-hand how difficult it is to pay for higher education,” Mulroe said. “Unfortunately, times have changed and you simply cannot work and go to college anymore. These kids are working two to three jobs on top of the financial aid they receive. We can’t break our promise to them.”
The General Assembly passed HB 4146, but the measure was vetoed by the governor. A second funding measure, SB2043 remains in the House.
TINLEY PARK- As lawmakers returned to Springfield for Tuesday’s session, so did bus loads of college students. They came to the capital to discuss their concerns over the cuts to higher education that the governor has proposed. The dramatic cuts to state universities and MAP grants could cause tuition rates and class sizes to rise, as well as force colleges to cut staff and administrative positions.
State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) had the opportunity to speak with students from Governor’s State University, located near the 19th district.
“Governor’s State is an incredible university that prides itself on offering affordable tuition. If these cuts are implemented that would severely limit their ability to continue offering it,” Hastings said. “Cutting funding to universities would absolutely devastate the higher education system in Illinois.”
This year, Senator Hastings and his colleagues voted multiple times to fund Illinois universities and MAP grants, but all of these measures failed to be signed into law.
SPRINGFIELD — Today, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) met with students from the University of Illinois-Chicago, who were participating in Illinois Public University Student Lobby Day. Senator Van Pelt and students discussed various higher education funding issues.
Senator Van Pelt, earlier this summer, was one of 37 Senators who voted to pass Senate Bill 2043, appropriating $373 million in general revenue funds for MAP grants. The bill is currently in House Rules Committee.
“MAP grant funding is absolutely essential for students throughout state, who may not be able to fully fund their education,” Senator Van Pelt said. “I have and will continue to support MAP grant funding, as well as other alternatives to assist with funding, such as The American Opportunity Tax Credit and The Lifetime Learning Credit.”
Earlier this year, Senator Van Pelt joined US Congressman Danny K. Davis (D) in encouraging current and future students to look into a variety of tax break options available to ease the financial burden of higher education. Together they launched #TaxBreaks4Students campaign, designed to highlight the programs available to those paying for higher education.
Final Senate higher education hearing warns of students lost in limbo
CHARLESTON — As students prepare to register for their spring classes, they are unsure what the absence of a state higher education budget means for them.
When Eastern Illinois University’ student government board assembled at the start of the school year, they didn’t think they would have to worry about the state’s budget. Their main concern was finding innovative ways to get other students involved in on-campus organizations.
Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) assembled the panel for its final scheduled hearing to hear from students like Jose Durbin, who are the future of higher education and our state government: He wants to be a state senator one day.
Durbin has already started looking at private loans that will end up being more expensive for him in the long run.
“Our public higher education institutions prepare our students to be the future leaders of Illinois,” said Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign). “It’s heartbreaking to hear students’ struggles as they work toward meeting their tuition costs and calculating budgets for their student organizations. We need to put a budget in place to guarantee students have the services and support they need to be successful.”
Every year, thousands of Illinois students take advantage of this vital state funding to help pay for the opportunity to receive a higher education. The average student with a MAP grant receives about $2,700 to help pay for tuition. As college costs continue to skyrocket in Illinois, these grants are vital to the sustainability of many students’ college careers.
Twenty percent — about 2,600 — of students at EIU rely on state assistance to cover their tuition expenses.
"We tell students from kindergarten on to study hard and get good grades so they can go to college," McGuire said. "We're hypocrites if we then allow the governor to pull the financial aid rug out from under them."
The Senate did pass funding for the state’s financial student assistance program, the Monetary Award Program (MAP). However, the House has yet to approve the funding.
CARTERVILLE- Illinois higher education institutions are still running despite the absence of a higher education budget.
John A. Logan Community College, like many state universities and community colleges, is absorbing costs up front to allow students to return to school this fall. However, this may force colleges and universities to cut vital services.
Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) assembled the panel at John A. Logan to hear from community college representatives like Vice President for Business Services Brad McCormick, who is struggling to finance on-campus child care assistance and tutoring services for students.
As Illinois students begin preparing for mid-terms, Chairman Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) assembled the Senate’s Higher Education Committee at Joliet Junior College to hear from students, parents and state community colleges and universities on the impact the current budget impasse is having on higher education in Illinois.“Time's a'wastin' - first semester already has started. Governor Rauner, get on board,” McGuire said. “Support MAP and higher education funding so Illinois high school graduates and returning adults can earn the knowledge and skills needed in today's economy to make our state strong again.”
With this year’s main session of the General Assembly over, Illinois has several new laws that could make a significant impact on your daily life.
If you have kids, enjoy after-work cocktails or are a veteran, you should definitely check out our list of the most important and interesting new laws that took effect this summer.
Every year, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission helps more than 125,000 students throughout Illinois advance their career dreams by helping them pay for college. The Monetary Award Program is designed to help eligible students who may not have enough money to pay for higher education go to a higher education institution, as long as they meet guidelines outlined by the grant. Without Governor Rauner’s approval, students statewide won’t be able to afford college tuition and other associated costs.
State Senator Emil Jones III’s (D-Chicago) district houses Chicago State University and he believes Governor Rauner needs to make the appropriation of state funds to the grant program a priority.
“Not every family has the means to send their child to school,” Jones said. “And there are many students who have the ability to go to college, receive a degree and be prepared to enter the workforce. We must ensure we give these students who are looking for a hand up and not a hand out an opportunity to reach their goals and contribute back to our communities. Funding this program is a no-brainer. If we want a vibrant economy, we need a workforce prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. Funding this program ensures economic vitality in the future.”
Senator Jones also voted in favor of Senate Bill 2042, which allows $5.4 billion, mostly in federal “pass-through” funds, to be appropriated. Illinois receives these funds through the federal government, but aren’t able to spend them unless lawmakers give the state the authority to spend it.
The federal pass-through will fund programs for mental health, disability services, meals for homebound seniors, job training and LIHEAP.
Senator Jones offered the following comment:
“Providing our most vulnerable citizens with the resources they need to have quality living conditions is one of the greatest purposes of government,” Jones said. “We put programs in place to help people who are in the most need. Providing spend authority for federal money is responsible and by doing so, we put people before political agendas.”
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