Scott Bennett outraged at Illinois students’ tuition burdens

bennett cmteCHAMPAIGN- A survey released by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) illustrates a real picture of the state budget impasse’s impact on college students.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is outraged that some state community colleges and universities are requiring students to pay back their need-based state tuition assistance to continue their education and  receive their transcripts.

“The goal of MAP grants is to alleviate financial need to give students an opportunity to succeed at our state universities and community colleges,” Bennett said. “However, now that the state is not meeting their obligation, we are taking away opportunities from Illinois students and hindering their ability to succeed.”

Students were encouraged to submit a written comment along with their survey results. A student responded, “I had to take a year off because I couldn't afford school anymore. So I’m working three jobs to pay back my school to get my transcripts. I can't afford to go to any university without the MAP grant. I cried myself to sleep because I had to see everyone leave for school.”

Bennett introduced Senate Bill 1841 which would prohibit a public university of community college from denying a student from registering for classes, or refusing to issue a student transcript if the student was awarded a MAP grant.

He didn’t move forward with this initiative since the General Assembly passed a bipartisan stopgap measure last spring to help continue MAP grant funding at the state’s higher education institutions.

“Our students’ opportunities shouldn’t be delayed while the state works toward a bipartisan compromise,” Bennett said. “However, it is now evident that as the budget impasse lingers the necessity for this precaution to prevent harm to students at our state universities and community colleges grows. We need to return to Springfield to stop problems like this.”

Here are some concerning findings from ISAC’s survey:

  • Forty-six percent reported they took out student loans, or more student loans, to cover the lack of MAP funding
  • Twenty-three percent indicated they took fewer credits this term because they couldn’t afford full tuition without MAP funding
  • Seven percent indicated they transferred to a less expensive school in state or out-of- state because they could not afford tuition without MAP funding.

The General Assembly will reconvene in January. Bennett hopes legislative leaders will work together to develop a complete and balanced state budget to end the impasse.

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