Questions linger over budget support for Illinois higher ed
- Illinois lawmakers have approved stopgap budget for public colleges and universities, but some reports say it will only cover tuition assistance promised in the state’s Monetary Award Program, which the state never paid during the 2015-16 academic year.
- The Illinois Student Assistance Commission says the lack of funding could jeopardize degree completion for more than 18,000 students, based upon a survey of grant recipients taken before the approval of the new six-month emergency budget.
- State institutions are offering mixed reaction to the budget standoff, with some saying they will cover student grant costs while others say they will wait for final resolution from legislators.
College and university leaders nationwide understand the uncertain nature of budget cuts in higher education, but few have contended with the distinct possibility of closure, which is the eminent case for several schools in Illinois.
Leaders in states like Louisiana, Florida and Kentucky should watch Illinois very carefully, as its austerity measures could help to set an agenda for cutting higher education costs completely out of public spending budgets. While it is unlikely that any state would eliminate public higher education, student withdrawals or transfers to private or out-of-state institutions could force the issue of closure for some schools.