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February 12, 2010

Hightman urges legislative action on cash crisis

SPRINGFIELD – Carrie Hightman, Chairwoman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), released the following statement today regarding the serious cash flow problems faced by public colleges and universities in Illinois:

“I strongly urge State leaders and the General Assembly to act promptly to avert a financial catastrophe that jeopardizes student access to a high-quality and affordable system of public higher education.

“I concur with the pleas this week from public university presidents and chancellors for the State to fulfill its financial promise made to the institutions and avoid the impending fiscal meltdown that potentially threatens college opportunities for tens of thousands of Illinois students.

“Two months ago, I wrote the members of the Illinois General Assembly about my concern over the impact the State’s serious cash flow problems would have on students, colleges, and communities around the State (attached). Since then, the cash crisis has only gotten more severe and a solution more urgent.

“As the attached chart illustrates, the state owes Illinois’ public colleges and universities a total of $1.2 billion before the 2010 fiscal year ends on June 30. While the impact varies from campus to campus, it is clear that this threat will likely require that students pay higher tuition rates and take longer to complete their degrees due to a lack of available classes, faculty, and counselors.

“It is unconscionable for state leaders to allow this fiscal crisis to endanger a higher education system that is the surest path to a successful future for students and the State. Quality higher education is the very foundation essential to rebuilding the Illinois economy.

“I urge all who are concerned that higher education remains accessible and affordable to demand that their legislators resolve the fiscal crisis before further damage is done to the higher education infrastructure.”

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