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May 8, 2006

Higher Ed Leaders Applaud State Budget

SPRINGFIELD – The state budget approved last week by the General Assembly addresses critical needs for the state’s college and university students, according to James L. Kaplan, Chairman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE).

“We in the higher education community commend Governor Blagojevich and the General Assembly for approving the fiscal 2007 budget that increases spending in areas of great need,” Kaplan said. “The budget includes a new student grant program, provides significant increases in need-based student financial aid, allows pay raises to make faculty and staff salaries more competitive, reinstitutes a grant program for disadvantaged students at community colleges, and creates new scholarship and grant programs to address the state’s chronic nursing shortage.

“In all, this is a very sound budget that addresses the areas of affordability, quality, and student access and success,” Kaplan said.

Judy Erwin, IBHE Executive Director, concurred. “This budget targets dollars to the most pressing higher education needs of students, faculty, and citizens of the state,” Erwin said. “The increases approved for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) and the new MAP-Plus program will help students keep pace with the rising cost of college and assist in reducing reliance on loans.”

The $2.15 billion general funds budget for higher education increases spending by $47.8 million, or 2.3 percent, over fiscal 2006 appropriations, when excluding spending for pensions.

The budget includes:

  • $1.3 billion in general fund spending for public universities, an increase of $26.7 million, or 2 percent, and, when combined with institutional resources, will enable an average faculty salary increase of 2.2 percent.
  • $354 million for community colleges, an increase of $6.7 million, or 1.9 percent. The budget includes $3 million for a Student Success Grant program aimed at students who are academically at-risk students, those who are economically disadvantaged, and students with disabilities. In addition, P-16 dual credit initiatives received an increase of $500,000, and adult education funding will increase by $825,000.
  • $381.1 million for MAP funding, an increase of $34.4 million in need-based grants, which includes $7.6 million in general fund revenues and $26.8 million from the Student Loan Operating Fund, contingent on sale of loan assets held by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). In addition, proceeds of the potential sale of the loan portfolio would pay for the new MAP-Plus program, which is to provide grants of $500 per year ($250 per semester) for sophomores, juniors, and seniors from families who have adjusted gross income below $200,000 and who do not receive MAP grants.
  • $1.35 million in a new nurse educator scholarship program to cover tuition and fees for master’s degree programs in expand capacity for training nurses.
  • Increases in operations of $1.3 million (8.1 percent) for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, and $252,000 (9.7 percent) for the University Center of Lake County.

“This budget exceeds the recommendations adopted by the Board of Higher Education,” Kaplan noted, “and we are grateful to the Governor and legislators for their support so Illinois students can pursue higher education.”


Don Sevener



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