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Sens. Laura Murphy and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant

SPRINGFIELD – Rising tuition costs have made higher education inaccessible to many Illinois students, but State Senators Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) hope to put college back within their reach by expanding grant programs for students in need.

“As high school students begin to explore options for higher education, many are turned off by the rising cost and lack of need-based assistance,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “It is imperative students who want to get an associate’s degree or certificate have the opportunity to do so without going into debt.”

Murphy and Bertino-Tarrant are sponsoring separate measures that would expand grant programs to students entering college.

Murphy introduced Senate Bill 3770, which would expand the University of Illinois’ grant program to all public schools in the state. The expanded Illinois College Promise program would provide tuition assistance for up to four years if the student meets certain criteria. 

“A college degree can give someone the chance to change their lives for the better, but the cost of tuition makes that impossible for students from working families,” Murphy said. “The University of Illinois paved the way with their Illinois Promise program, and it’s time that all Illinois students benefit from that idea.”

Bertino-Tarrant’s proposal, Senate Bill 2324, would provide assistance to eligible Illinois residents seeking an associate’s degree or certificate from a community, vocational or technical college in the state.

The grant would be equal to the cost of tuition and mandatory fees at the institution. It would kick in after other student aid, not including loans, are credited to a student’s account.

Both measures were part of a subject-matter hearing on college affordability in the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday.