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December 4, 2002


SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) will vote next week on a proposed fiscal 2004 budget of $2.7 billion, an increase of nearly $124 million, or 4.9 percent, in general funds spending over the current fiscal year.

The budget recommendations include funds for statutorily mandated increases in retirement benefits which are unavoidable, an allowance for an average 2% salary increase for faculty and staff who received no increase in the current fiscal year budget, and restoration of last year's steep cuts in student financial assistance in the face of sharply increased tuition around the state. These three recommendations total $113 million of the proposed $124 million increase.

A proposed capital budget of $341.8 million for FY2004 also will be acted on by Board members. The amount requested is down approximately $100 million from the request for FY2003 and about equal to the amount approved by the General Assembly last spring. It is directed primarily at necessary repairs and renovations and projects previously committed to or partially funded.

The Board meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday, December 10, 2002 at the Westin Hotel in Chicago.

"These budget recommendations address the basic priority needs of higher education," Steven H. Lesnik, Chairman of the Board of Higher Education, said. "We recognize that the state's unfolding fiscal plight may require changes in this budget - commensurate with other agencies. We look forward to working with Governor-elect Blagojevich and the new General Assembly to craft a final higher education budget that meets the needs of the state's institutions of higher learning and Illinois students and their families in the context of the state's financial condition."

"This budget will enable us to carry on with the vital goals of The Illinois Commitment, including protecting affordability of college from further erosion and recognizing the importance of making faculty salaries competitive with peers nationwide," Daniel J. LaVista, IBHE Executive Director, said. "We believe this is a responsible budget, particularly in light of funding reductions experienced by colleges and universities this fiscal year and cutbacks that affected students relying on financial aid."

The budget recommendations include increased funding of:

  •    $42.9 million for the statutorily mandated contribution to the State University Retirement System.

  •    $37.7 million for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for student financial aid.

  •    $32.5 million for a 2 percent salary increase for faculty and staff at public universities, plus funds to recruit and retain high-quality faculty and staff.

  •    $7.6 million for grants to community colleges.

  •    $1.3 million for adult education programs.

  •    $900,000 to address statewide teaching and learning initiatives.

  •    $1.8 million for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.
The proposed budget also includes a net reduction of $2.3 million in existing grant programs to direct resources to higher priority needs in workforce and economic development.

The $341.8 million capital budget would fund 31 projects, and includes $30 million for repair and renovation projects at each public university and community college. The capital recommendations also support $50 million for the third year of a five-year, $250 million construction program at community colleges.

The capital budget is targeted at projects designed to protect the state's investment in higher education facilities, and the request is just $3.5 million, or 1 percent, higher than capital spending approved by the Governor and General Assembly for fiscal 2003.

In other business, the Board will receive a report on the issue of undocumented students, review the fourth annual Results Report outlining progress in meeting the goals of The Illinois Commitment, and, following the Board meeting, the Committee on Affordability will meet to hear from a panel of national experts on college costs.

The study of undocumented students was directed by House Resolution 892. It found dramatic demographic shifts in the 1990s. During that decade, the Hispanic population in Illinois grew 69 percent, and now makes up about 12 percent of the state's population. Meanwhile, Hispanic enrollments in college grew 80 percent between 1990 and 2001. Even so, though Hispanics make up 12.3 percent of the population, they constitute just 7.4 percent of enrollments in higher education and 6 percent of degrees awarded.

The study also found differences in the admissions policies of public institutions with respect to students who are not citizens.

Board members also will examine the Statewide Results Report, an accountability tool for gauging progress in meeting state goals under the higher education strategic plan, The Illinois Commitment. The report shows progress on several fronts including movement to strengthen teacher education efforts, assess student learning, and implement performance indicators for evaluating statewide and campus performance according to various criteria. The report noted slippage in affordability resulting from the current year increases in tuition and reduction in student aid.

After the Board meets, its special affordability committee will convene to hear presentations by nationally recognized authorities on the subject. Appearing before the committee will be Pat Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, a group that issued a report earlier this year concluding that there was a growing gap in making college affordable to low-income students. Also appearing will be Brian Fitzgerald, staff director of the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, and Jane Wellman, senior associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

Don Sevener



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