May 28, 2003
REPORT URGES WIDE-RANGING STEPS TO PROMOTE COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY
SPRINGFIELD - Stating that "college affordability in
Illinois faces a critical crossroad," a special Committee
on Affordability is recommending a renewed commitment to the
state's need-based financial aid program, expanding eligibility
and assuring a funding stream to protect needy students from the
rising cost of college.
report will be presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education
at its meeting June 3 at John
Wood Community College in Quincy.
Board members will review a report from the Committee on Affordability,
a joint panel comprised of members from both the Board of Higher
Education and the Illinois
Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) and co-chaired by Dr. Robert
English and J. Robert Barr. After a period for public comment, the
Board will act on final recommendations at its August meeting. ISAC
will also be considering the committee's recommendations during
The report, which is the product of hearings, research, and widespread
consultation with interested parties, builds on the work of the
Board's 1994 Committee to Study Affordability and contains a broad
scope of recommendations for protecting Illinois' reputation as
an affordable place to go to college. Among its recommendations:
- Expanding eligibility for need-based Monetary Award Program
(MAP) grants to 135 credit hours (presently, students are eligible
for four years of MAP grants, the equivalent of 120 credit hours).
The extension is designed to accommodate students whose majors-teaching,
engineering, architecture, among others-require more than four
years of study.
- Making MAP funding the highest priority in the state's effort
to improve affordability and ensuring that annual increases in
MAP support keep pace with increases in tuition and fees across
all higher education sectors.
- Ensuring that MAP awards are sufficient to enable students to
choose among community colleges, public universities, and private
- Increasing the Illinois Incentive for Access (IIA) program to
provide additional aid for low-income students.
- Encouraging public universities to adopt tuition and fee programs
that promote stability, predictability, and affordability to help
families better plan for college costs.
- Making the "four-year completion guarantee" now offered
by some institutions universal among all public universities,
with a two-year version available at community colleges. The guarantee
assures students who stay on track with their studies the availability
of courses to finish their curriculum in four years.
- Strengthening Illinois high school graduation requirements,
based on the notion that students who are prepared for the academic
rigors of college will progress in a timely-and economical-way
toward their degrees.
- Offering financial incentives to low-income students to take
assessment exams (Advanced Placement, for instance) and to participate
in dual-enrollment programs that give them a head start on college
- Coordinating outreach efforts at the state level to educate
families and students about financial aid opportunities and assist
with taking advantage of them.
- Developing a biennial "state of college affordability in
Illinois" report to monitor financial needs that require
attention and to provide an early alert to parents about the cost
of attending college.
Board members will also examine the latest survey of underrepresented
groups in higher education showing steady gains for minority students
in enrollments and degrees awarded.
annual Underrepresented Groups Report shows enrollment of African-American
students rose nearly 5 percent and Latino enrollments increased
almost 7 percent in fall 2002 compared with a year earlier. Over
the decade from 1992 to 2002, black undergraduate enrollment increased
more than 16 percent while the number of grad students jumped nearly
50 percent. Trends for Latino students were even more impressive:
up 64 percent for undergrads, and 88 percent for grad students.
Minority students also demonstrated improvement in degrees awarded.
For African-American students, the gain from 2001 to 2002 was a
meager .6 percent, largely because of an 11.5 percent drop in the
number of black students earning certificates. All other areas showed
improvement, including an increase of 4 percent in associate degrees,
7 percent in bachelor's degrees, nearly 4 percent in master's, and
21 percent in doctorates. Over the decade ending in 2002, degrees
granted to black students at all levels rose more than 45 percent.
Degrees awarded to Latino students increased nearly 12 percent over
the past year, and 91 percent over the decade.
This year's report also documents steps colleges and universities
have taken to recruit underrepresented students and faculty, as
well as improve the college readiness of students from disadvantaged
backgrounds. Universities detailed a variety of recruiting steps-visits
to high schools and community colleges, direct mail, financial aid,
publications-to attract minority students to campus. Some activities
produced unexpected dividends. The University
of Illinois at Chicago reported, for example, that the recruitment
of a Latino student often results in the student's siblings, parents,
and other relatives also applying to UIC. Similarly, institutions
report various activities aimed at increasing faculty and staff
State University, for instance, has a program to provide departments
with up to $11,000 per person per year for three years to fund summer
salary, professional travel, graduate assistants, equipment, and/or
mentoring for underrepresented faculty. Several institutions also
have stepped up efforts to recruit students with disabilities. Northern
Illinois University has an "optional supplemental admission
process" for freshmen applicants with disabilities who do not
meet the NIU admission criteria, as well as an outreach program
for faculty and staff at Kishwaukee
college on teaching and interacting with students with disabilities.
The Board also will discuss a follow-up survey showing ways that
colleges and universities have implemented policy recommendations
adopted last year relating to nontenure-track faculty. An IBHE paper,
Faculty Matter!, urged measures to help nontenure-track faculty
be more effective teachers, to integrate such faculty more thoroughly
in the campus community, and to ensure the appropriate use and compensation
of faculty who are not on the tenure-track.
Universities report increased emphasis on evaluation of nontenure-track
faculty and improved orientation and mentoring activities. Several
universities are exploring or experimenting with multi-year contracts
for nontenured faculty and part-time adjunct faculty members, a
key recommendation in the Board's report of last year. Universities
also have reconsidered salary and benefits for nontenured faculty-including
base salary levels and sick leave.
Community colleges, too, reported a variety of measures aimed at
improving teaching effectiveness, including workshops, orientation,
and faculty mentors. Several colleges also reported increased efforts
to involve part-time and nontenure-track faculty in campus governance.