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January 24, 2005


SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Board of Higher Education will vote next week on a $2.4 billion budget proposal that targets student financial aid as the top funding priority while recognizing the continued fiscal struggle confronting state policy-makers.

Excluding mandated pension expenditures, the budget recommendations total $2.1 billion and call for increased general fund spending of $19.4 million, or less than 1 percent over fiscal 2005 appropriations.

The Board will meet Tuesday, February 1, at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

"This budget affirms the Board's highest priority, which is to promote affordability and to foster student access by assisting those students who would otherwise find college an unattainable aspiration," James L. Kaplan, Chairman of the Board, said. "The Board also has attempted to be responsible in its request, given the slow recovery of the Illinois economy and the state's ongoing financial crisis."

Highlights of the budget include:

  • $361 million for the Monetary Award Program (MAP), an increase of $22.4 million (including $18.7 million in state general funds and $3.7 millions in federal matching funds), or 6.6 percent, in the state's need-based student grant program administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). The increase will make modest improvements in the buying power of MAP grants and will accommodate the projected rise in the number of students seeking financial aid.

  • $1.3 billion in state general funds support for public universities, an increase of $14.7 million, or 1.1 percent, over FY05 appropriations. The recommended budget would enhance funding for faculty and staff through a combination of state and institutional dollars .

  • $307.6 million in state general funds support for the community college system, a jump of $8.6 million, or 2.9 percent. The budget recommendations include $10.8 million - to be combined with $15 million reallocated from FY05 - to implement changes in the equalization grant formula adopted by the Illinois Community College Board last November. The proposed budget also earmarks $2.5 million for Disadvantaged Student Success grants to provide special or extra services to disadvantaged students and to offer courses and assistance to overcome educational deficiencies.

  • $2.6 million in state general funds support for the University Center of Lake County (UCLC), representing an increase of $1.6 million over FY05 funding levels. The increased funding will be used to operate the new UCLC facilities opening in Waukegan and Grayslake.

  • A state general funds decrease of $17.8 million, or 45 percent, in grant programs administered by the Board of Higher Education, principally through a $10.3 million reduction in the Health Services Education Grants program and a $4.8 million cut in the State Matching Grant Program that provides seed money for attracting federal and corporate research dollars. The reductions are reallocated to help finance the recommended increase in MAP funding. The grants budget also includes $2.8 million for the new Diversifying Faculty in Illinois Higher Education program.

  • $328.2 million in state funding for the State Universities Retirement System (SURS), an increase of $55 million, or 20.1 percent, over FY05 levels. This represents the amount certified by SURS as necessary to meet statutory funding requirements in fiscal year 2006.

  • $349.9 million for capital improvements covering 29 projects plus continued funding for capital renewal.

In other business, the Board will hear results of a survey of public universities on the feasibility of instituting textbook rental programs for students. The Office of the Governor has undertaken a study of rising textbook prices, and identified rental programs at Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville as models that help curtail student costs. The report to Board members will examine the costs, benefits, and logistical considerations in expanding such a program to all campuses.

In addition, Larry Isaak, president of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), will address the Board on MHEC's programs and Illinois' participation in its endeavors. MHEC is a consortium of 10 states, including Illinois, aimed at promoting interstate cooperation and resource sharing.


Don Sevener



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