January 30, 2006
HIGHER ED BOARD TO ACT ON BUDGET BOOSTING STUDENT AID
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) will consider adding dollars for student financial aid, faculty salaries, and students with special academic needs when it votes on a $2.1 billion general funds budget for higher education operations and grants for fiscal 2007.
The Board meets February 7 at the Hilton Hotel in Springfield, when it also will act on recommendations of a task force to expand bachelor degree opportunities without permitting community colleges to get in the business of offering them.
The 2007 budget headlines the Board’s agenda, calling for an increase of $30.5 million, or 1.4 percent, over fiscal 2006 spending. When funding for pensions is included, the total budget request is $2.3 billion, an increase of $116.2 million, or 5.3 percent.
Highlights of the budget include:
Student financial aid. The budget allocates $354.3 million for the need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP), an increase of $7.6 million, or 2.2 percent, over current appropriations. The increase would allow the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to lower its “reduction factor” – a calculation that reduces each financial aid award – from 9 to 7 percent. In addition, the budget calls for spending $8.2 million – $1 million increase – on Silas Purnell Illinois Incentive for Access grants, which go to freshmen students with extremely limited resources for college. The increase would expand the number of low-income students receiving the $500 grants.
Public university operations. FY2007 appropriations for the state’s nine public universities would be $1.3 billion under the proposed budget, a jump of $14.4 million, or 1.1 percent. The recommendation, in combination with tuition and fee income, would support a 2 percent boost in faculty and staff salary costs.
Community colleges. The recommended budget allocates $306.2 million to the state’s community college system, an increase of $5.8 million, or 1.9 percent over FY2006 appropriations. Increased funding and reallocation of dollars within the community college budget would result in a $7.5 million, or 3.9 percent, rise in base operating grants. In addition, $3 million is earmarked for new Disadvantaged Student Success Grants. These grants are intended to support community college efforts to assist students with educational deficiencies through special courses and services designed to promote their academic success.
After action by the Board, the budget recommendations will be forwarded to the Governor and General Assembly.
Board members will act on several recommendations aimed at expanding opportunities for community college students and graduates to complete baccalaureate degrees. The proposal stems from a study and report of the Baccalaureate Access Task Force established by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) after both it and IBHE opposed efforts by Harper College to expand the community college mission to include granting bachelor’s degrees.
Among the recommendations being considered by the Board on February 7 are:
- Creation of a new Baccalaureate Completion Grant to fund joint university and community college efforts to establish off-campus baccalaureate completion programs.
- Expansion of existing articulation and transfer vehicles – such as the Illinois Articulation Initiative and dual admission agreements – for all community college students.
- “Quick response” baccalaureate access needs analysis and a new program approval system that permits rapid responses to fast-changing workforce demands.
- An extended credit model for certain programs that allows additional credits earned at a community college to count toward completion of a bachelor’s degree.
The resolution before the Board reiterates its support of the Task Force conclusion that community colleges should not be granted authority to grant bachelor’s degrees “at this time.” Should such an option be reconsidered in the future, the Task Force suggested, it should only be undertaken for clearly identified workforce needs that cannot be met through arrangements with baccalaureate-granting institutions.