High hopes for higher ed in bill package
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
[This post has been bumped up to Wednesday from Tuesday night for visibility purposes.]
By Hannah Meisel
* The higher education working group did a quick presser this afternoon to unveil their package of six bills that colleges and universities have been asking for, especially as they have been hammered over the last few years of a budget impasse combined with the brain drain they were already facing. Some institutions responded by freezing tuition, raising tuition, or increasing non-domestic recruitment. All solutions come with their own baggage.
From a Sunday story about SIU…
We’ll come back to that story, but back to today’s news.
Two big ones in the package are the AIM HIGH Grant Pilot Program (SB2927) and HB5020, which would stop the practice of making MAP grants kind of a “one and done” deal.
AIM HIGH is a $25 million ask for a new merit-based scholarship. Conditions for the scholarship would include Illinois citizenship and meeting a benchmark GPA and test scores. Lawmakers said they were crossing their fingers that it could be included in a final budget this week, but seemed like they wouldn’t be losing any sleep if it waited til the fall. It’s meant to bring in two types of students missing from Illinois campuses: those who go elsewhere and those who go nowhere.
Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) said HB5020 is exactly what admissions officers have been asking for. MAP grants are currently administered on a one-year basis and students who received a MAP grant one year is never guaranteed one the next year. HB5020 would give MAP grantees priority the following year, for four years.
* One other notable bill in the package would “greatly” expand debt limits at the state’s public universities in order for them to address deferred maintenance. Some universities desperately need this. Always striking to see a brand new building next to a dilapidated one.
Back to the SIU story…