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  • Final Senate higher education hearing warns of students lost in limbo

    hi ed hrngs eiuCHARLESTON — 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.

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  • bush ccap presserGURNEE - State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, joined parents, child care providers and representatives of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to speak out in favor of restoring full funding and access to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).

    The program helps working families afford day care for their children. Under tighter restrictions imposed by Governor Bruce Rauner starting July 1, an estimated 90% of parents who apply for CCAP would be denied.

    “The Child Care Assistance Program is a vital service for working families,” Bush said. “Parents should never need to wonder if it’s better to just stay home. I voted to reinstate CCAP funding, and I urge Governor Rauner to listen to parents and child care providers and do the right thing by signing that legislation.”

  • Report details compensation abuses, administrative bloat at state colleges and universities: Cunningham

    Months of work by members of the media and the Illinois General Assembly have culminated in a special report detailing costly administrative practices at our state’s public universities and community colleges. The report brings to light growing administrative costs and generous executive compensation packages that have helped fuel tuition increases for Illinois students.

    "This report found that many public colleges and universities have been too quick to award lavish benefits to their executives and increase the number of administrative employees they assign to non-instructional post," State Senator Bill Cunningham said. "While these practices are never welcome, they are particularly troubling during difficult budgetary times and when college tuition rates have grown faster than any other expenses faced by middle class families."