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February 7, 2011

TASK FORCE TO PRESENT MAP STUDY; IBHE TO ACT ON FY 12 BUDGET RECOMMENDATIONS

SPRINGFIELD – A Task Force created to examine key questions related to a proposal to expand revenue available to the Monetary Award Program (MAP) will be presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education at its meeting February 15, 2011, in Chicago. The Board also will act on higher education budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly for fiscal 2012.

The Board voted in December to establish the blue ribbon task force to undertake an objective and comprehensive study of the College Investment Opportunity Notes (COINs) proposal advanced by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC)  to supplement general fund dollars available to low-income students receiving MAP grants. ISAC has proposed selling bonds, repaid by the growth in income tax revenues from college graduates, to increase funding for MAP by $100 million annually. This year, some 140,000 eligible applicants went MAP-less because the $405 million state appropriation to the program was all claimed by mid-April.

“When a program to expand college access and promote affordability can only serve half the students it’s designed to assist, any idea to generate new dollars deserves serious consideration,” Carrie J. Hightman, IBHE Chairwoman, said. “We are grateful to the Task Force for its diligent work in an accelerated timeframe to give the Board and the greater higher education community a factual basis for better understanding the COINs proposal.”

The report will be presented by Task Force Chairman Tom Schmidt, former president of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, as an information item on the Board’s agenda.

Chairwoman Hightman said affordability – one of four goals of the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success –will be a central focus of the budget recommendations being prepared for Board action. “As in recent years, the Board’s FY12 budget will feature investment-level steps that will demonstrate the value-added – for educational attainment, affordability, and economic recovery – of increasing support for students and the institutions they attend,” she said. “We cannot eliminate the achievement gap or train residents for the modern economy if they are denied access to college because of financial need.”

The IBHE will unveil a new agenda feature at the February meeting, called the “Public Agenda Showcase,” an opportunity for colleges and universities, state agencies, and other organizations to showcase initiatives that support implementation of the Illinois Public Agenda. Two institutions will be highlighted in February.  Governors State University will showcase an extensive partnership with neighboring community colleges to enable students to earn an associate’s degree and readily transfer to GSU for the economical  completion of a bachelor’s degree. The partnerships span three Public Agenda goals: increasing college attainment,  promoting affordability, and fostering employment in high-demand occupational fields.  Bradley University will demonstrate its successful work-study program that has an impressive 85 percent placement rate for students landing permanent jobs, a key component of both Goals 1 and 3.

“The true implementation of the Public Agenda will occur on campuses and worksites and other venues of educational activity,” Chairwoman Hightman noted. “We look forward to these presentations as exemplary models of creative ways that institutions are making the Illinois Public Agenda a living document.”

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