Higher education funding for public universities and community colleges in Illinois would gain a $109.7 million increase according to Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2021. This includes dedicated financial support through the state’s need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant program to make community college tuition-free for eligible students whose families make less than $45,000 per year. The three higher education boards say students will benefit from the governor’s proposed investment through greater access, equity, and attainment. In addition, the governor’s proposal to bring each of Illinois’ public universities into the national Common Application would allow students to fill out one application for 12 universities, eliminating one barrier to access.The overall higher education budget proposal totals $2.178 billion, which would reflect a 5.4 percent increase over the current year’s budget.Increases would include:
- $55.6 million (5 percent) for public universities
• $14.9 million (5 percent) for community colleges and adult education
• $50 million for MAP
• $1 million to convert all Illinois public universities to the national CommonA MAP set aside for community college students will mean that 15 percent ($75 million) of MAP dollars will be used specifically for that group of learners. “The investment in a MAP set aside for community college students is a commitment to equity, access and attainment for working families in Illinois,” said Brian Durham, executive director of the Illinois Community College Board. “This set aside will allow community college students to make decisions knowing they will have the support of the state.” The governor’s suggested increase in MAP would make community college tuition-free for all MAP-eligible students with family income under $45,000 who also receive a federal Pell Grant. Overall, increased MAP funding will extend assistance to an additional 20,000 students, which is over and above the 10,000 additional MAP and AIM HIGH students who are being funded in this fiscal year.His budget also provides funding for statewide implementation of the national Common Application. Streamlining the application process for the state’s public, four-year universities will allow students to use just one form to apply to all. “It’s a way to make the application process simpler for students,” said Ostro. The Common App provision would make Illinois the first state with all public four-year universities using one application. Currently, students from Illinois were the fifth largest group that used the Common App, but they were using it to apply to out-of-state schools.