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Higher Education

  • Sen. Ann GillespieARLINGTON HEIGHTS – Students seeking a master’s degree in social work will be able to take their licensing exam sooner thanks to a new law introduced by State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights).

    “Students of social work will now be licensed upon graduation and able to apply for jobs sooner,” said Gillespie. “Our state is facing a social worker shortage, so this new law will allow us to mitigate that much quicker.”

    Senate Bill 1888 allows students in a master’s program for social work to take their licensing exam in their final semester. Before this amendment, students needed to wait until after their degree was awarded.

  • Sen. Robert PetersSPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) that will give college students who may be eligible for SNAP benefits more opportunities to learn about the program was signed by the governor and became law Friday.

    “There are a lot of students who struggle to find their next meal because they’re not ever aware they’re eligible for SNAP benefits,” Peters said. “This law will help raise awareness of the program so that college kids can rely on the community around them to not go hungry.”

    Senate Bill 1641 requires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to identify and flag college students who could be eligible to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and requires the Commission to post notices that includes SNAP eligibility requirements and other information where students are likely to see them.

  • Sen. Rachelle CroweSPRINGFIELD – To expand her support of education to service members, State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) co-sponsored a new law to provide in-state tuition rates to all active duty military and all individuals receiving benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    “By giving the brave men and women who serve in our military an opportunity to receive a higher education, we are committing to a better quality of life for those making sacrifices for our country,” Crowe said. “I am humbled to have a hand in giving more people a chance to attend and achieve their goals.”

  • mcguire 040519College students face major changes as they adjust to life away from home, a situation that can cause or greatly exacerbate underlying mental health issues. State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) is sponsoring legislation to enable the state’s higher education system to help the one in four college students who face mental health difficulties.

    House Bill 2152 would require public colleges and universities to form mental health panels to discuss mental health issues, implement programs that provide support to students struggling with mental health issues, and provide student-to-student support networks. They also must form a strategic partnership with local mental health providers, and that the Illinois Board of Higher Education develop a technical assistance center to develop and standardize mental health policies.

  • manar siu 013019SPRINGFIELD – Southern Illinois University could establish a presence in downtown Springfield under a plan introduced in the legislature today by State Senator Andy Manar.

    Manar’s plan (Senate Bill 179) would set aside $50 million in state capital funds for a grant to SIU for costs associated with the construction of a campus and public policy center. The site would have to be within 1 mile of the SIU School of Medicine at 801 N. Rutledge St.

  • isac grads

    High school seniors, parents of students and prospective college students of all ages can make use of free workshops this October to help begin the 2019-2020 school year.
     
    October 2018 marks the third year of College Changes Everything Month, a project of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, the state’s college access and financial aid agency. Oct. 1 marks the first day the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form becomes available for the following year’s fall semester. State aid like the Monetary Award Program (MAP grant) is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so students should complete their FAFSA as soon as possible in order to have the chance to access as much financial aid as possible. Parents should be aware that some of their financial information is necessary to fill out that form.
     
    "Navigating the college application and financial aid process can be tough for any family, but especially so for a family which never before has sent a child to college. That's why ISAC's College Changes Everything workshops are so necessary and so helpful,” said State Senator Pat McGuire, Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “In addition, Illinois distributes its Monetary Award Program need-based aid on a first-come, first-serve basis. Filing the FAFSA now greatly increases a qualified student's chance of getting a MAP grant before the cupboard is bare."
     
    During College Changes Everything Month, ISAC provides free workshops to students and their families at local high schools where they can receive hands-on instruction filling out college applications and their FAFSAs from college and financial aid experts.
     
    Search by ZIP Code for a free public event near you at studentportal/isac.org/events.

  • Sen. Pat McGuire

    SPRINGFIELD — The bicameral, bipartisan Higher Education Working Group chaired by State Senator Pat McGuire today announced a series of measures to help Illinois residents afford college and attain degrees.

    Two financial aid proposals highlight the package. House Bill 5020 will help students access four years of Monetary Award Program grants, giving students and their families assurance that a MAP grant won’t be “one and done.” Senate Bill 2927 incentivizes Illinois’ public universities to provide more scholarships using Institutional Matching, a new $25 million state fund. These scholarships will be available to families with annual incomes of up to $150,000 for a family of four.

    Other proposals developed by the six Democrats and six Republicans comprising the working group assist students transferring from community colleges to public universities and provide regulatory relief to Illinois’s 12 public university campuses.

    “This legislative package shows what happens when both parties work together toward a common goal,” McGuire said. “We want to make earning a community college or university degree in Illinois more certain and more affordable.”

    Details on the full slate of proposals can be found here.

  • Sen. Napoleon Harris IIISPRINGFIELD – State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) is lead sponsor of legislation that would require every community college and public university to offer a course studying the events of Black History.

    “Education is the only way we can combat negative African-American stereotypes seen on the news, social media and in movies,” Harris said. “It should be a priority for our universities to offer a course that teaches students about our culture and the contributions we’ve made to society.”

     

  • Asst. Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordSPRINGFIELD – While obtaining a college degree is increasingly vital to career advancement, low-income, racial minority and first-generation college students often struggle to transition into a college or university’s culture.

    A plan led by Illinois Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that was approved in the Senate Higher Education committee Tuesday seeks to ease the transition into college by allowing Illinois’ public universities to establish bridge programs. These programs would provide access, academic support and financial aid to underrepresented students.

    “There are still so many young people who are going to college for the first time and moving away from everything they are familiar with, and that can be a nerve-racking situation,” Lightford said. “We have a very diverse population in our state, and our universities should be focused on inclusion so that all young people benefit from the world-class education they offer.”

  • SenBennettSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) listened to the University of Illinois system administration testify before the Senate Appropriations II Committee today on their budget request for Fiscal Year 2019.

    “As we work towards a budget, I look forward to working with my colleagues to guarantee that the University of Illinois will acquire the funds it needs to maintain its position as one of the most prestigious universities in the Midwest and the nation,” Bennett said. “I’ve always believed that if we care about the future of our state, we must invest in its next generation and protect our universities and colleges.”

  • WIULess than a year after a bipartisan state budget deal restored some semblance of stability for the state’s public universities and colleges, school leaders say Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget proposal could be a devastating financial blow to their recovery.

    Rauner wants to dump state retirement costs back on the universities as part of a four-year plan to shift $2 billion worth of state costs onto public schools, universities and colleges. The practical result would be layoffs and program cuts along with potentially higher tuition for students.

  • castro 050417ELGIN – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) demanded today that the governor do his job and release the funds Harper and Elgin Community Colleges desperately need.  

    After months of negotiations, the General Assembly put together a responsible and bipartisan budget that included cuts, reforms and revenue. Although the budget included $225,000 for Harper and Elgin Community Colleges, the state has not released the funds.

    “I fought for a budget because I did not want to have this lingering uncertainty over Harper and Elgin Community Colleges and the work center,” Castro said. “It is important that we cover the cost of operating the Education and Work Center because it has a meaningful impact on the lives of the people in our community.”

    Harper College partnered with Elgin Community College and the Chicago Cook Workforce at the Hanover Park Education and Work Center to provide services to community members. The center provides a variety of career skills development and English as a Second Language, basic adult education and high school equivalency instructions.

    If the state does not release the funding, then the center might not be able to remain open beyond the fall semester.

    “I am tired of Governor Rauner neglecting his duties,” Castro said. “The two-year budget impasse had a shattering impact on colleges and universities in Illinois and if he doesn’t release these funds, he will leave a lasting and staggering effect on the economy in my district.”

  • mcguire 020817SPRINGFIELD — In light of an approved state budget that includes funding for state universities and Monetary Award Grants for college students, S&P Global Ratings announced it has upgraded the bond ratings of four Illinois universities and has taken three other universities off of its watch list for a potential downgrade.

    Illinois Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Pat McGuire said it’s the first sign of the road to fiscal recovery that universities face in the wake of a 736-day budget impasse that saw layoffs, program closures and students worrying over whether the financial aid the state had promised them would ever be paid.

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  • lecture hallSPRINGFIELD – As the White House rolls back federal protections for student loan borrowers across the nation, the Illinois State Senate sent a clear message Wednesday that it won’t succumb to pressure from loan services and their lobbyists.

    Legislation sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that would establish a student loan bill of rights in Illinois and help to protect students from predatory college lenders passed in the Senate Wednesday.

    “The fact that the student loan industry sent high-powered lobbyists to Springfield to fight against these practical, commonsense protections for middle- and low-income families tells me that we’re on the right track with this legislation,” Biss said.

    “Students are drowning in debt the second they complete their education. It can take decades to dig out from that kind of financial burden, and quite often students quickly fall behind on their payments or end up in default. This is no way to start a life, a career or a family.”

  • clayborne 050217SPRINGFIELD — Service members looking to obtain college credit for military courses may soon have an easier process when transferring credits to a public university or community college in Illinois.

    The proposal, sponsored by State Senator James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville), passed the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday. 

    “Providing our service members accessibility to higher education should be a priority of our state and our nation,” said Clayborne. “It is important we continue this trend by offering students a clear understanding of how their military courses transfer into our state’s universities and community colleges.”

    The measure would create the Educational Credit for Military Experience Act, which  would require the state’s public universities and community colleges to develop a policy for awarding college credit for military courses taken through the Armed Forces.

    House Bill 3701 will now be considered by the full Senate.

  • mcguire 020817SPRINGFIELD — Joining student activists as they visited Springfield to call for funding for higher education, State Sen. Pat McGuire asked them to tell Gov. Bruce Rauner about how the impasse is affecting them.

    “I’m going to ask you to teach,” said McGuire, D-Joliet. “I have become an attentive student of Governor Bruce Rauner. In his State of the State address, he said ‘Job creators get excited by term limits.’ You know that’s not true. Job creators get excited by a well-trained, well-educated workforce. I’m convinced the Governor does not know our lives from a hill of beans. The real Illinois is not people like himself, worth $700 million. It’s people trying to get by on $8.25 an hour. People who need Monetary Award Program grants to continue their education.”

    The Fund Our Future Rally drew students from Moraine Valley Community College, the City Colleges of Chicago, the University of Illinois, DePaul University and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

    McGuire asked students to “teach the governor” by giving him sharp, specific examples of what the budget impasse is doing to their education.

    “Trust your experience,” McGuire said. “He can’t dispute what you’ve been through. He can’t dispute what you’re after.”

  • Sen. Pat McGuire

    State universities have made efforts to cut, but warn that the state suffers

    SPRINGFIELD — Speaking after presidents from five state universities testified on how they’re responding to the lack of a state budget and the possibility of more reductions to come, State Sen. Pat McGuire said a generation of students are being harmed by the governor’s lack of a clear plan for higher education in Illinois.

    “We’ve heard of ‘thousands of decisions,’ as Northern Illinois University president Douglas Baker put, to rein in costs and streamline programs,” McGuire said following the hearing, in which presidents explained in detail how they are attempting to triage staff and programs for possible reduction or elimination. “That action at NIU and other state colleges is in sharp contrast to lack of any apparent plan for higher education from the Rauner administration other than to let schools wither.”

    Calling the Illinois House’s recently-passed stopgap measure “unsustainable,” Baker said universities need stability and predictability from state government. Speaking of years of reduced state funding for higher education, Baker said:

    “Unfortunately, these kinds of cuts hit those with the lowest financial ability the most. It hurts the most needy students the worst, but it impacts all of them.”

    “In the absence of any plan from the Rauner administration for how to stabilize and strengthen our state’s higher education system, I fear we’re creating a two-class higher education system in Illinois where those who can afford it will be able to earn college degrees, but those who can’t afford it are out of luck,” McGuire said.

    McGuire, D-Joliet, is chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

  • martinez sos 012517CHICAGO — Illinois Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to news that Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) will cancel three days of classes to cut costs as Governor Rauner has failed to produce a state budget that supports higher education.

    “As a proud graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, it breaks my heart to see my alma mater facing this hardship because we have a governor whose refusal to negotiate a budget is dismantling higher education in Illinois.

    A high percentage of Northeastern Illinois University students are Latinos, making it a critically important institution for advancing academic and career opportunities for many students in my district and in the Latino community. I support Northeastern Illinois University Interim President Richard J. Helldobler’s call for the state to fund higher education. The state needs to support state schools.

    Sadly, what’s happening at Northeastern Illinois University is happening to colleges and universities throughout Illinois. Classes being cancelled, furloughs, faculty layoffs and students deciding to go to colleges and universities in other states has become too common. Governor, it’s time to do your job and start supporting higher education.”

    NEIU’s El Centro campus, located in Martinez’s district, has been a focal point for access to higher education opportunities in the Latino community.

    NEIU, which serves roughly 10,000 students, also recently closed for spring break to implement a weeklong furlough program and has had to let employees go due to the lack of a state budget.