The Partnership for College Completion is a new nonprofit organization launched to catalyze and champion policies, systems and practices that ensure all students in and around Chicago - particularly low-income, first-generation students - graduate from college and achieve their career aspirations

PCC’s Response to Governor Pritzker’s 2020 Budget Address

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Today, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced his FY21 budget proposal and for a second year in a row the Governor has taken steps to chart a path towards investing in Illinois' future. This year's budget builds on last year's progress, and with many colleges experiencing enrollment gains, it appears, students and families are regaining trust and confidence in Illinois' public higher education system.

The Governor's budget supports growth in higher education through:

  • Increasing the state's investment in the Monetary Award Program (MAP) by $50 million
  • Increasing appropriations to our state's public universities and community colleges by 5%
  • Providing free community college for students whose families earn less than $45,000
  • Maintaining AIM HIGH grant funding

The Governor's proposed FY21 budget aligns with PCC's goals to improve higher education in three important areas:

PCC celebrates increased investment in MAP and community college student grants.
There is perhaps no more important way to make higher education affordable for low-income students than to better fund Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, as they are crucial in helping low-income students enroll and persist in college. Today, the Governor committed to a further $50 million increase in MAP, increasing the number of eligible students served and potentially the amount of aid students receive, inching the state closer to a financial aid program that serves all students in need. The Partnership reaffirms our commitment to advocating for a full $100 million investment in MAP.

The Partnership applauds the Governor's commitment to Illinois' low-income community college students. 
The Governor also introduced a program that would guarantee that low-income students under a $45,000 income threshold would not have to pay tuition and fees at community college. Considering that community college students are far more likely to not receive MAP despite being eligible and applying, this new policy could help many students enroll in college.

Just like the Governor, PCC also recognizes the need for new sources of funding that can support higher education. 
With revenue from the cannabis industry, gaming, taxes, and the prospect of additional funds in the coming years if the state adopts a Fair Tax, the Partnership urges the state legislature to consider this $50 million increase a down payment toward a fully funded program – one that serves all eligible low-income students at full tuition and fees. Then – and only then – will we lessen the financial barrier to higher education still faced by thousands of Illinois' low-income students.

There is much to celebrate in this budget, and PCC applauds the Governor's commitment to the state's college students. However, the Partnership also provides the following recommendations as part of a comprehensive approach to improving equity in higher education.

  1. The state should invest in financial aid programs that help students persist. Emergency completion grant programs support students at risk of stopping out due to unmet financial need, resulting from the loss of a job or medical expenses. These programs keep students on track to degree completion, raise graduation rates, and narrow institutional completion gaps.

  2. MAP grants should be phased out at for-profit institutions. While for-profit colleges serve less than 8% of the state's college students, they account for nearly twice the amount of student loan defaults than all of Illinois' public and private institutions combined. By eliminating MAP at for-profits, Illinois would be helping thousands more students access a more affordable higher education.

  3. Move toward instituting an equitable funding formula for higher education. Currently, Illinois does not have a funding formula for allocating resources to four-year public institutions, and as a result, appropriations are based on historic funding levels. An independent task force should be established to study the current allocation method and recommend an allocation model that distributes state resources equitably and predictably, and that ensures institutions serving our most vulnerable students are well-supported.

  4. The state should support student parents in higher education by providing more information on existing resources. In his proposed budget, Governor Pritzker included an expansion of the child care assistance program to offer reduced co-pays to parents. This increase would be most effective if coupled with increasing information to student parents on child care resources such as the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and federal dependent care allowance. A change as simple as notifying student parents about their eligibility for resources in their financial aid letters would bridge that information gap.


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PCC’s Response to Governor Pritzker’s 2020 State of the State Address

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Today, the Governor delivered his first State of the State Address, and PCC was pleased to see that renewed investments in higher education were highlighted.

Increase in MAP Grants

Governor Pritzker acknowledged expanding student grants, which include the Monetary Award Program (MAP), saying that the state is "expanding scholarships to an additional 10,000 college-bound students."

The governor's $50 million increase in MAP last year was a crucial addition that allowed thousands more students to enroll and persist in college. Still, additional investments are needed; this year, tens of thousands of students will be denied aid despite being eligible and applying, and awarded grants will cover only a fraction of what they used to in terms of college costs. We agree that MAP increases have been an essential boost to Illinois, but recognize this is only the beginning in making college more affordable for our low-income students.

Revenue

"It's time for us to recommit ourselves to the hard work of bringing prosperity and opportunity to all communities in Illinois through a fairer tax system…"


Governor Pritzker identified the need for the Fair Tax Amendment to pass, and the Partnership agrees; new revenues from this source are necessary to develop a budget that adequately invests in our students, and this would raise funds equitably.

Enrollment

In his address, the Governor mentioned the increase in college enrollment in the state: "after years of decline, we are turning around university student enrollment by making college more affordable…"

We agree that this is an important achievement, and that college affordability is paramount for Illinois students. However, thousands of young adults throughout the state still lack access to and/or cannot afford college, particularly at our states four-year institutions. With a continued focus on equity, as well as investing in students and institutions, the state can further increase enrollment at the public colleges and universities serving our state's most financially vulnerable students.

Appropriations

"We passed a bipartisan, truly balanced budget on time, with renewed investments in job creation, cradle to career education, and physical and mental healthcare... Jobs and businesses are coming to this state because we are investing in the things that have always made us great: a skilled workforce, modern infrastructure, great public schools, top research universities…"

After 17 years of harmful disinvestment in Illinois institutions, the incremental additions to higher education appropriations should not be downplayed, as colleges have already seen enrollment gains. However, investing in a higher educational system capable of ensuring that all students have access to the careers of the future will take further commitment from the Governor's Office and legislature over the coming years.

Overall Focus on Education

The Partnership is heartened by the Governor's focus on education in his address, and we agree that improving the B-20 educational system has to be a priority, such that Illinoisans have opportunities to succeed that aren't limited by location, race, or income. This year, we urge Governor Pritzker to commit to policies that will make lasting impacts on equity, such as increasing MAP by $100 million, eliminating state financial aid at for-profit colleges and redirecting those funds to thousands of students not receiving MAP awards, investing in emergency grants to help students complete, and supporting student parents pursuing their college degree by providing information on critical services. We look forward to working with Governor Pritzker and the legislature, and to making progress toward providing more equitable pathways for all students to succeed.

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ILEA Member Spotlight: Meet Asif Wilson, Harold Washington College

1. What is your current role/title?

I currently serve as Associate Dean of Instruction at Harold Washington College. While I support the general instructional operations of our college, I directly support tutoring, dual credit and dual enrollment, first year experience courses, developmental education, and community outreach. I started my career as a middle school social studies and science teacher and moved into pre-service teacher education after five years in the classroom. While the Associate Dean appointment was not necessarily in my career trajectory, I am grateful to be in a position where I can introduce and support racial equity initiatives that, we hope, lead to less harmful conditions for our students.

2. Where did you earn your degree(s)? Types of degree(s) and field(s) of study?

I hold a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois at Chicago. My research looks at the intersections of race, place, and pedagogy. I am very interested in exploring how race, class, and gender impact schooling, education, curriculum, and instruction. I also hold a M.Ed. in Educational Studies and B.A. in Elementary Education.

3. How did your college/university support your success in earning your degree(s)?

When I was hired as the Dean of Instruction, my colleagues at Harold Washington were instrumental in supporting me through my journey to complete my doctorate. They offered me the support and encouragement I needed to maintain my work responsibilities and write my dissertation. I was also fortunate enough to be supported financially by my institution through their tuition reimbursement program.

4. What excites you about equity work at your institution?

Before he died, Tupac (2009) wrote a poem titled "Roses in the Concrete." The rapper (2009) ends the poem with "long live the rose that grew through the crack in the concrete when no one else even cared" (p. 3). For me, Tupac highlighted two equity-based claims:

On the one hand, that the roses are roses—our students come into our schools with many assets. Tara Yosso (2005) argues that all students bring in a variety of assets, what she calls "community and cultural wealth", into schools that often go under-utilized. In my opinion, part of our work in moving towards more equitable outcomes for students is recognizing, utilizing, and sustaining interactions with students that are rooted in their strengths. From this positionality we view the roses as just that…roses.

Additionally, this positionality may support a shift in our equity analyses away from individualized ones that blame students for their academic failure towards the institutional structures and processes that create the conditions that our students participate in—the concrete. For me, it is imperative that we center our attention on fracturing the concrete conditions in our schools that create barriers and harmful conditions for our students, especially those that have been historically marginalized by our schools.

I am happy to hear that so many institutions are working to better define equity on their campuses and developing initiatives that meet said visions. I am, however, cautious, to congratulate these initiatives as they often-times paint a deficit picture of our students while avoiding interrogation of the structures and processes of our schools that may be creating inequities. I encourage schools attempting to engage their campus communities in creating more equitable outcomes for their students to continue to develop support systems for students but to be more reflective, turning the mirror towards the concrete conditions that our students may not find the cracks in.

5. In your role, how do you impact equitable outcomes for your students?

While I think I've impacted a number of equitable outcomes for our students, I'll highlight two initiatives here.

Discover

The first is our Discover course. As chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, where our "college success courses" live, I have led the over-haul of our course offerings. After spending time with our students, I realized that unfortunately, community colleges remain a "second option" for many of them. For a variety of reasons, (counselors, cost of attendance, societal stigma, school evaluations, family, etc.), many students feel as if their attendance at Harold Washington College is secondary, less than, to attending a four-year university. On top of that, our placement test places most of our students into remedial courses. These two experiences/structures may have a negative impact on how our students see themselves and their sense of belonging. I, in collaboration with our wellness center and faculty, set out to create a course for our developmental education students that could cultivate their hope, what Paolo Freire (1970) defines as agency—seeing ourselves as capable—and navigation—navigating complexities when they arise. Discover is a one-credit hour, trauma-informed, healing-centered course that all of our developmental English students currently take.

Data reported by students before Discover (start of semester survey) indicated that Discover students are dealing with a great deal of stress while attending college. This data also suggested that they struggled to navigate the complexities of life and school. Data reported by students at the conclusion of Discover (end of semester survey) indicates that a) the classroom environment was constructed and maintained to support students hope (Freire, 1970); b) Discover supported students' self-recognition of their confidence (agency); c) Discover helped students connect to themselves, their classmates, and the college (personnel and resources); d) Discover helped students better navigate complexities (stress) in and out of school; and e) students hoped for elements of Discover to be included in other classes/areas of the college.

Research shows that when students feel more confident in themselves, feel like they belong, and have a support system in and out of school, they perform better. Discover is creating that sense of confidence, belonging, and collaboration needed to support our students' success while also creating the space for them to name their pain, connect their pain to others to see that they are not alone, and develop tools in their toolbox to move beyond, and start healing, from their pain. It is our hope that Discover no longer exists one day. It is our hope that asset-based, healing-centered praxis of Discover is embedded into every area, (every inch of the concrete) and process of our college.

Collective Care for the Care-Givers

While institutions may be getting better at supporting the holistic needs of our students, in my opinion, we still have not considered the conditions that better support the care givers—those of us charged with supporting our students' success. If our students have pain, we do, too!

Roughly two years ago, I invited faculty, staff, and administrators working with developmental education students to start attending bi-weekly meetings to better understand what asset-based pedagogies were and how they might support our interactions with our students. We called this committee T.E.A.M. (Transitional Education through Affective Methodologies). Approximately 19 people attended each of our meetings. After spending nearly a year together our work took a turn. It was the end of the spring semester and, as we always did, we opened up our meeting with check-ins—a ritual where every individual in the space could share their personal reflections related to how they were feeling physically, intellectually, emotionally, and share any needs they hoped the group could provide. During this particular check-in, almost every T.E.A.M. member shared a story of exhaustion, pain, and burn-out. We knew that we had to turn our gaze away from the students and towards ourselves. We knew that we could not survive under the existing conditions that were burning us all out.

For one year, about twelve of the original 19 members dedicated two-hours every other week, to T.E.A.M. During our time together we focused on three areas related to collective care: breaking bread, engaging in healing practices, and political education. These acts of collective care represent "an extended family, where members are intimately connected and routinely perform acts of compassion on behalf of one another" (Dockray, 2017, para 12).

While these healing-centered collective care efforts were used for our own well-being, they seemed to impact how we interacted with students, supporting this paper's claim that if we care for each other more we will, as a result, have a stronger capacity to care better for our students. At the conclusion of T.E.A.M., one member wrote "Students come to us (as we may come to work) with many life experiences, both positive and negative, that shape their learning and development. T.E.A.M. allowed us to learn about how to support students and provide them a space to name and frame their experiences" (end of semester reflection, May 2019). Here, we see the symbiotic nature of T.E.A.M—both as a space for us to focus on ourselves, but while doing so we were also focusing on our students.
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ILEA Member Spotlight: Meet Corey Williams, Governors State University

1. What is your current role/title?

I currently serve as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Dean of Students and Interim Chief Diversity Officer.

2. Where did you earn your degrees and what did you study?

BA, Sociology, Stony Brook University,

MA, Higher Ed Admin, Chicago State University,

Ed.D. Education Leadership, DePaul University (June 2020 anticipated)

My dissertation research question is: Is there a relationship between cultural-based mentoring and academic persistence in African-American and Latinx male community college students?

3. How did your college/university support your success in earning your degrees?

As an undergrad, there was a clear disconnect between educational outcomes and equity. While I'm sure that there were programs and services geared towards student success at Stony Brook University in the early 90's, as a first-generation, low-income student, those programs weren't very well advertised. Also, as someone who immigrated from a foreign country, it was difficult for me to navigate the complexities of higher education as English was not my native language.

4. What excites you about equity work at your institution?

Being a catalyst for change that will ultimately impact every aspect of Governors State University.

5. In your role, how do you impact equitable outcomes for your students?

In my many roles, I clearly understand that diversity does not mean that all of my students are equal and as such, I need to be more intentional in creating spaces to ensure that students truly feel supported. Additionally, coming together as a community (faculty, students, staff and external stakeholders) to discuss how to invest in structures that will best support our students.


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Rising tuition makes college access harder for low-income students

daily-herald

January 3, 2020

by MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY - Daily Herald

Rising tuition and state underfunding of public colleges and universities has put access and affordability out of reach for low-income students, experts say.

The impact is being felt most acutely by black students whose enrollment in four-year colleges has steadily declined, according to a report by the nonprofit Partnership for College Completion.

The group works with colleges and universities to improve completion rates for low-income, minority and first-generation students. It found 11,100 fewer black students attended Illinois' public and private, nonprofit institutions in 2017 compared to 2007.

"We have seen a mass exodus of black students from higher education in Illinois over the last several years," said Kyle Westbrook, executive director of the Partnership for College Completion.

On the flip side, Latino students disproportionately are enrolling in community colleges and are about 30% less likely to transfer to four-year institutions than white students, another Partnership report shows.

The declining funding of colleges and universities has led to students leaving Illinois for nearby states, Westbrook said.

For a student whose family makes less than $30,000 a year, the cost of attending a public four-year college is about $12,800 per year -- 50% more than the Midwestern average. That same student would pay yearly about $17,500 to attend a private four-year college, about $22,000 at a for-profit institution, and around $6,200 to attend a community college in Illinois, the report shows.

Meanwhile, overall state appropriation for Illinois public universities has declined by more than 50% from 2002 to 2018. State funding of the Monetary Award Program grant for low-income students has remained static during that period, the report shows.

"Universities have passed those costs onto students," Westbrook said. "Students who can least afford it are the (ones) being priced out."

State funding has not kept pace with rising tuition costs or the increase in the number of MAP-eligible students. About 46% of eligible students receive MAP grants. Students are awarded a maximum of $4,900.

"The award covers only about 34% of tuition and fees at our public universities. And not every student who is eligible actually receives one," Westbrook said.

The group recommends increasing state funding for public institutions serving large populations of low-income students as well as the MAP grant -- awarded based on financial need. It also urges creating a task force for an equity-driven funding formula for higher education.

Source: https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20200103/rising-tuition-makes-college-access-harder-for-low-income-students 


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How community colleges are supporting low-income black, Latino students

How community colleges are supporting low-income black, Latino students

January 3, 2020

by MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY - Daily Herald

Growing up in the Northwest suburbs, Daliyah Sanders often felt isolated from her peers as the only black student in her class practically since kindergarten through high school.

"It's been my reality my entire life," said Sanders, 19, of Schaumburg.

It's why connecting with peers and professors in college was an important motivator for Sanders to stay in school. That and getting a tuition-free full ride at Harper College in Palatine through the One Million Degrees program, which helps hundreds of community college students succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Sanders transferred to Harper from a four-year college in Chicago that didn't offer her the personalized attention she needed. Harper, she realized, was the better option because of the supports it offers minority students, such as tuition assistance, mentoring and networking.

"I chose this program because ... my friend talked about how good of an experience it was. ... I liked the overall help it was giving to students," said Sanders, who learned about the program as a student at Hoffman Estates High School.

Low-income minority students, like Sanders, increasingly are ditching four-year institutions due to rising tuition costs and lack of supports.

Community colleges are positioned uniquely to help these students through career path programs tailored to what local employers need, said Kyle Westbrook, executive director of the Partnership for College Completion.

"They are deeply embedded. They are closer to the communities, to the high schools," Westbrook said. "They have been building dual-credit, dual-enrollment options for high schools that can be major access avenues for low-income student populations."

Nearly a third of students at suburban community colleges come from low-income families and receive assistance through federal Pell grants and state Monetary Award Program grants. Many colleges have adopted programs and policies that help black, Latino and low-income students complete degree programs and transfer to four-year universities.

Elgin Community College offers robust mentoring services, including peer mentoring, for its black and Latino students, who comprise roughly 4% and 48%, respectively, of the college's student population.

"We also have a mandatory advising program ... requiring certain groups of students that we've identified as having some needs to meet with their advisers before they enroll for the semester," said David Rudden, ECC managing director of institutional research.

Other interventions include expanding outreach to Latino students through the Organization of Latin American Students club. The college's Spartan Food Pantry and financial literacy program also are geared toward serving the low-income student population.

College of Lake County in Grayslake is partnering with area high schools that have higher populations of low-income black and Latino students -- North Chicago, Round Lake, Waukegan and Zion-Benton -- to provide career counseling and support.

One such experiment places a CLC college transitions coach at Mundelein High School to build relationships with students and families, and help them through the financial aid and application processes.

"Rarely it's the academic aspect that is the deterrent for student success," CLC President Lori Suddick said. Rather, it's about "affordability, not knowing how to navigate the system, and understanding how to successfully advocate for oneself within an environment that (isn't) always designed in ways to benefit people."

CLC is supporting students' basic needs through an on-campus food pantry where they can grab a snack and get free groceries, hygiene products and clothing. It also provides emergency funds, such as if a student has a flat tire or a household problem.

Students without home internet access or a personal computer can check out Chromebooks or use CLC's library hot spots. Officials also are adopting open education resources to eliminate textbook costs and creating dual-credit programs for high schoolers. The college's three campuses -- Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan -- house career path programs tailored to the needs of the communities they serve.

The college recently changed its policy of dropping students for not paying the previous semester's fees. Once dropped, students often don't re-enroll. Students now can remain enrolled while paying overdue fees through a payment plan.

Harper partners with Barrington Area Unit District 220, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 and Northwest Suburban High School District 214 for its Summer Scholars program. It enrolls students coming from high school lacking skills, first-generation and underrepresented students, and those with disabilities or whose English and math skills are not up to college level.

"They get to come on campus ahead of the rest of the fall class, get an opportunity to meet students, and form friendships and bonds," said Sheryl Otto, Harper associate provost for student affairs.

Based on first-semester performance, students are eligible for a monetary award toward second-semester tuition and fees.

"It is to try and help keep them motivated and keep that momentum encouraging them to enroll," Otto said. "It's much harder once we lose those students to get them back into the institution."

Harper's partnership with One Million Degrees provides more comprehensive services targeting similar populations, helping them earn associate degrees and transfer to baccalaureate programs.

Students get support through tutoring assistance, workshops, academic advisers and personal/professional mentors. Between financial aid and scholarships through the Harper College Educational Foundation, students in the program pay no tuition costs.

Currently, 160 students are enrolled in the program -- about 10% are black, while black students comprise 4% of Harper's total student population. Of last year's batch, 85% of students successfully completed the course.

College of DuPage has hosted a black student leadership conference for the last five years to engage high school students and help them understand what it means to be college-ready. COD is working on transfer partnerships with historically black colleges and universities for its roughly 7% black student population and will host a hip-hop summit this spring.

"We are trying to do things to make it an environment for African American students so they feel like they belong here," said Mark Curtis-Chavez, COD provost of academic and student affairs.

This year, COD hosted it's first Latino Leaders Luncheon with community leaders from throughout DuPage County. The college has a growing Latino student population -- nearly 27% -- and officials are starting to recruit students directly at the high schools.

"Our goal is to increase the success rates of African American and Latino students by 4% by the end of next year," Curtis-Chavez said. "Success means three things for us: persistence, graduation and transfer."

Source: https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20200103/how-community-colleges-are-supporting-low-income-black-latino-students 


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ILEA Equity Webinar Series 2019-2020 Calendar

Please check back periodically for updates and additions to this schedule.

​Date & Time ​Presenter(s) Description
​February 11, 2020
12:00pm – 1:00pm

Please join us at this website:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/451560093

​Jordan Herrera

Director of Social Services and the
Advocacy Resource Center – Amarillo
College

​Eradicating Student Poverty Barriers Hindering Academic
Success at Amarillo College

This webinar will present Amarillo College's systematic
approach to addressing poverty barriers. AC's No Excuses Poverty Initiative is the connector between campus programs, services and projects designed to support students, boost graduation and transfer, and increase student persistence. AC's Advocacy and Resource Center is the hub of our initiative. Growing from serving less than 1.5% of our student enrollment in 2012, the ARC assists 21% of our student enrollment in 2018. During academic year 2017/2018, the ARC assisted nearly 2,000 students in over 5,000 student visits. Even with this remarkable growth, AC continues to revolutionize our initiative by using data analytics and technology to drive social services connections before students even begin classes.
​March 11, 2020
12:00pm – 1:30pm

Please join us at this website:
https://join.startmeeting.com/partnershipfcc

​Bridgette Johnson

Director, Black/African American
Cultural Center – Colorado State
University

​Leading Equity-Minded Success for Black students at Colorado State University

This webinar will present the Black/African American Cultural and Center's approach to holistically serving Black students using its 4-prong approach: cultural programming, academic enhancement, mentoring, and leadership development. During this webinar, Bridgette Johnson (Director) will highlight specific programs that have positively impacted retention for Black students at CSU. Additionally, the webinar will describe the amazing opportunities and contextual challenges that come with leading a Cultural Center for Black students. Cultural Centers were created to serve specific student groups, thus, equity in student success is their mission. This webinar will present one center's approach to holistically serving Black students using culturally responsive programming and university partnerships.
​April 22, 2020
12:00pm – 1:00pm

Please join us at this website:
https://nl.zoom.us/j/9145845176

​Lydia Mantis

Undergraduate Instructional Support
Leader – National Louis University
Phuong Thai-Garcia, Undergraduate
Instructional Support Leader –
National Louis University

​Supporting Student Learning through Faculty Coaching at
National Louis University


This webinar will present National Louis University's Undergraduate College (UGC) faculty coaching model. Participants will learn about the history of UGC, its commitment to college access and career pathways, the classroom visit and debrief model, and how insights gained from this process drive faculty professional development. Learn how this mode develops responsive instructors who engage a wide range of learners.
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State of ILEA Recap

At this year's fall summit, the Partnership's Managing Director Lisa Castillo Richmond delivered our inaugural State of ILEA address, The State of ILEA: From Planning to Implementation, providing a status update on the initiative, highlighting the work being done by ILEA member institutions, and reviewing upcoming plans for the cohort. Highlights from her address included:

  • The Case for Our Approach

Illinois has the 4th largest graduation gap between Black and White students at four-year colleges & universities. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS, Graduation Rates 2015)

Illinois ranks 39th out of 44 states in the Latino-White attainment gap for adults and 35th out of 41 states in the Black-White attainment gap for adults. (Source: The Education Trust, The State of Higher Education Equity, 2018)

  • Welcome to New Schools

o Elgin Community College, Chicago State University, Loyola University, Kishwaukee College, and College of DuPage are now ILEA partners.

o The ILEA cohort now consists of 28 public and private nonprofit colleges and universities. The breakdown is as follows: 4 public universities, 8 private colleges and universities, and 16 community colleges.

o The ILEA cohort represents nearly 217,000 undergraduates (38% of total enrollment in the state) including 44% of total Black student enrollment and 67% of total Latinx student enrollment.

  • Equity Plan Update – Twenty-one equity plans have been submitted and several are forthcoming

Full drafts of members' equity plans are due December 18, 2019, but that date is flexible based on each institution's process. All finalized, publishable equity plans will be due to the PCC on Wednesday, March 18, and will be posted on PCC's website on March 25, 2020. PCC will notify local media to announce the publication of your equity plans. We encourage you to post them on your institution's website as well. As a reminder, these plans are living documents and should be updated annually as ILEA colleges and universities learn from and move forward their efforts. PCC will share a process and template for annual review and reflection of institutional Equity Plans.

  • 10 common strategies have arisen across equity plans: First-year mentoring programs; New financial supports for students; Addressing basic needs and non-academic supports; Creating or better supporting student organizations related to student identity/belonging/culture; Reforming first-year courses & sequences; TRIO programs and targeted wraparound supports; Academic advising reforms; Reforming developmental education courses/placement; Creating population specific success committees and councils; and Providing faculty professional development. We look forward to a great session at the 2020 Spring Summit where these plans will be discussed as a community.

  • 2019 to 2020: Planning to Implementation

Strategic importance of data and the centrality of IR in the campus equity conversation

o Build capacity for diagnosis (meaningful disaggregation) and capacity building on data (critical analyses)

o Be open to seeing new things in the data including looking at the impact of early momentum indicators such as credit accumulation, gateway course completion and persistence momentum (term to term, year to year)

  • What's Next

o ILEA Equity Academies for Presidents and Cabinets and Faculty launching in 2020

o Deep dive meetings on specific topics related to strategies in equity plans being explored

o Use of NSC dashboards in 2020


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Meet Asif Wilson, Harold Washington College

1. What is your current role/title?

I currently serve as Associate Dean of Instruction at Harold Washington College. While I support the general instructional operations of our college, I directly support tutoring, dual credit and dual enrollment, first year experience courses, developmental education, and community outreach. I started my career as a middle school social studies and science teacher and moved into pre-service teacher education after five years in the classroom. While the Associate Dean appointment was not necessarily in my career trajectory, I am grateful to be in a position where I can introduce and support racial equity initiatives that, we hope, lead to less harmful conditions for our students.

2. Where did you earn your degree(s)? Types of degree(s) and field(s) of study?

I hold a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois at Chicago. My research looks at the intersections of race, place, and pedagogy. I am very interested in exploring how race, class, and gender impact schooling, education, curriculum, and instruction. I also hold a M.Ed. in Educational Studies and B.A. in Elementary Education.

3. How did your college/university support your success in earning your degree(s)?

When I was hired as the Dean of Instruction, my colleagues at Harold Washington were instrumental in supporting me through my journey to complete my doctorate. They offered me the support and encouragement I needed to maintain my work responsibilities and write my dissertation. I was also fortunate enough to be supported financially by my institution through their tuition reimbursement program.

4. What excites you about equity work at your institution?

Before he died, Tupac (2009) wrote a poem titled "Roses in the Concrete." The rapper (2009) ends the poem with "long live the rose that grew through the crack in the concrete when no one else even cared" (p. 3). For me, Tupac highlighted two equity-based claims:

On the one hand, that the roses are roses—our students come into our schools with many assets. Tara Yosso (2005) argues that all students bring in a variety of assets, what she calls "community and cultural wealth", into schools that often go under-utilized. In my opinion, part of our work in moving towards more equitable outcomes for students is recognizing, utilizing, and sustaining interactions with students that are rooted in their strengths. From this positionality we view the roses as just that…roses.

Additionally, this positionality may support a shift in our equity analyses away from individualized ones that blame students for their academic failure towards the institutional structures and processes that create the conditions that our students participate in—the concrete. For me, it is imperative that we center our attention on fracturing the concrete conditions in our schools that create barriers and harmful conditions for our students, especially those that have been historically marginalized by our schools.

I am happy to hear that so many institutions are working to better define equity on their campuses and developing initiatives that meet said visions. I am, however, cautious, to congratulate these initiatives as they often-times paint a deficit picture of our students while avoiding interrogation of the structures and processes of our schools that may be creating inequities. I encourage schools attempting to engage their campus communities in creating more equitable outcomes for their students to continue to develop support systems for students but to be more reflective, turning the mirror towards the concrete conditions that our students may not find the cracks in.

5. In your role, how do you impact equitable outcomes for your students?

While I think I've impacted a number of equitable outcomes for our students, I'll highlight two initiatives here.

Discover

The first is our Discover course. As chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, where our "college success courses" live, I have led the over-haul of our course offerings. After spending time with our students, I realized that unfortunately, community colleges remain a "second option" for many of them. For a variety of reasons, (counselors, cost of attendance, societal stigma, school evaluations, family, etc.), many students feel as if their attendance at Harold Washington College is secondary, less than, to attending a four-year university. On top of that, our placement test places most of our students into remedial courses. These two experiences/structures may have a negative impact on how our students see themselves and their sense of belonging. I, in collaboration with our wellness center and faculty, set out to create a course for our developmental education students that could cultivate their hope, what Paolo Freire (1970) defines as agency—seeing ourselves as capable—and navigation—navigating complexities when they arise. Discover is a one-credit hour, trauma-informed, healing-centered course that all of our developmental English students currently take.

Data reported by students before Discover (start of semester survey) indicated that Discover students are dealing with a great deal of stress while attending college. This data also suggested that they struggled to navigate the complexities of life and school. Data reported by students at the conclusion of Discover (end of semester survey) indicates that a) the classroom environment was constructed and maintained to support students hope (Freire, 1970); b) Discover supported students' self-recognition of their confidence (agency); c) Discover helped students connect to themselves, their classmates, and the college (personnel and resources); d) Discover helped students better navigate complexities (stress) in and out of school; and e) students hoped for elements of Discover to be included in other classes/areas of the college.

Research shows that when students feel more confident in themselves, feel like they belong, and have a support system in and out of school, they perform better. Discover is creating that sense of confidence, belonging, and collaboration needed to support our students' success while also creating the space for them to name their pain, connect their pain to others to see that they are not alone, and develop tools in their toolbox to move beyond, and start healing, from their pain. It is our hope that Discover no longer exists one day. It is our hope that asset-based, healing-centered praxis of Discover is embedded into every area, (every inch of the concrete) and process of our college.

Collective Care for the Care-Givers

While institutions may be getting better at supporting the holistic needs of our students, in my opinion, we still have not considered the conditions that better support the care givers—those of us charged with supporting our students' success. If our students have pain, we do, too!

Roughly two years ago, I invited faculty, staff, and administrators working with developmental education students to start attending bi-weekly meetings to better understand what asset-based pedagogies were and how they might support our interactions with our students. We called this committee T.E.A.M. (Transitional Education through Affective Methodologies). Approximately 19 people attended each of our meetings. After spending nearly a year together our work took a turn. It was the end of the spring semester and, as we always did, we opened up our meeting with check-ins—a ritual where every individual in the space could share their personal reflections related to how they were feeling physically, intellectually, emotionally, and share any needs they hoped the group could provide. During this particular check-in, almost every T.E.A.M. member shared a story of exhaustion, pain, and burn-out. We knew that we had to turn our gaze away from the students and towards ourselves. We knew that we could not survive under the existing conditions that were burning us all out.

For one year, about twelve of the original 19 members dedicated two-hours every other week, to T.E.A.M. During our time together we focused on three areas related to collective care: breaking bread, engaging in healing practices, and political education. These acts of collective care represent "an extended family, where members are intimately connected and routinely perform acts of compassion on behalf of one another" (Dockray, 2017, para 12).

While these healing-centered collective care efforts were used for our own well-being, they seemed to impact how we interacted with students, supporting this paper's claim that if we care for each other more we will, as a result, have a stronger capacity to care better for our students. At the conclusion of T.E.A.M., one member wrote "Students come to us (as we may come to work) with many life experiences, both positive and negative, that shape their learning and development. T.E.A.M. allowed us to learn about how to support students and provide them a space to name and frame their experiences" (end of semester reflection, May 2019). Here, we see the symbiotic nature of T.E.A.M—both as a space for us to focus on ourselves, but while doing so we were also focusing on our students.
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NSC Postsecondary Data Partnership Update - December 2019

Many thanks to Moraine Valley Community College, National Louis University and Roosevelt University for submitting 3-5 years of their baseline data to the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) by the November 8, 2019 second ILEA submission deadline. As promised at the fall ILEA Summit, schools submitting by the November 8 deadline were entered into a drawing for a $1,500 donation to their student emergency/persistence fund. Congratulations to Roosevelt University, the winner of this drawing! Congratulations are also in order for ILEA's newest member, the College of DuPage (joined October 2019), which will also win a contribution to their fund for having the quickest turnaround for data submission in November.

Currently, the following eight colleges and universities have submitted their data to the NSC. Congratulations to Northern Illinois University, Kishwaukee College, Moraine Valley Community College, National Louis University, Roosevelt University, College of DuPage, Elgin Community College, and Northeastern Illinois University. Your dashboards are being prepared by NSC for release this month.

The final data deadline submission to the NSC for the ILEA cohort is December 31, 2019. Please contact your program manager if you will not make this deadline or if you have questions about submitting data.



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Nonprofit presents report on minority student equity gaps in higher education

northern-star

November 30, 2019

NAJLA EDWARDS - Northern Star

DeKALB — Black students aren't graduating at the same rates as white and latinx students, minorities are under-represented in higher education institutions and rural students struggle with returning to rural areas after college, according to a report by an Illinois nonprofit.

Partnership for College Completion presented their report Tuesday in Altgeld Hall.

Partnership for College Completion was founded in 2016 and researches policies that could ensure all students in Illinois graduate and meet their career aspirations, according to their website.

Mike Abrahamson, PCC's policy analyst and author of the report, presented the report.

Nearly two decades ago, Illinois was considered a leader in college affordability due to strong investment in its universities, the report reads. In 2002, the state covered the majority of college costs through state appropriations, like the Monetary Award Program, leaving just 28% to 30% to be covered by students through tuition and fees.

The 2002 MAP grant covered up to 100% of tuition and fees at public community colleges and four year institutions. In the fiscal year 2002, all eligible students that applied received an award, according to the report.

Illinois has become the worst in the nation regarding the size of its cuts to per-student higher education funding, the report states. Due to this, students' share of college costs increased dramatically between 2002 and 2018.

From 2002 to 2018, funding for public universities was cut over 50%, which included community colleges as well, according to The Illinois Board of Higher Education's budget recommendations.

As a result, the state shifted many costs previously covered by Illinois to the institutions themselves. This brought tuition increases and deficit spending.

At most Illinois colleges, there are wide gaps between black and white students' graduation rates, and black students are under-represented at institutions that have smaller completion gaps, according to the report.

Among the state's most selective institutions like the University of Chicago or Northwestern University, 7% of attending students are black, on average, the report finds. Less selective institutions show an average black enrollment of 14%.

Data cited by the report shows that black prospective students are more interested in applying to colleges that have the highest graduation rates for black students rather than the highest enrollment rates.

Despite this, colleges that have higher graduation rates for black students enroll significantly less black students.

After the presentation, guests had lunch and continued to discuss these topics.

"I think that we are fortunate to be aware of our ability to improve as well as having a president and chief diversity officer that really are at the forefront of recognizing the value of the diversity that our students bring," Molly Holmes, director of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at NIU, said. "It's on us to close those gaps, our students aren't the gaps. We are the ones who need to know our students. Those numbers are our students that we support outside the classroom so that they can persist to graduation."

Editor's note: This story was updated Dec. 2 to correct two errors. Mike Abrahamson is the PCC's policy analyst, not political analyst, and a section has been clarified to refer to specifically the 2002 MAP grant. It now states that all eligible students that applied received an award, not all eligible students in general.

Source: https://northernstar.info/news/nonprofit-presents-report-on-minority-student-equity-gaps-in-higher/article_b3ec3ce4-1399-11ea-bfad-e7ebb6fb0c3d.html 

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Three ILEA Schools Make Aspen’s Top 150 List

Three ILEA Schools Make Aspen’s Top 150 List

CHICAGO, November 20, 2019 — The Partnership for College Completion congratulates ILEA members Elgin Community College, Joliet Junior College, and Moraine Valley Community College for their selection as eligible institutions to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The $1 million prize awarded every two years by the highly-regarded Aspen Institute recognizes high achievement and performance among community colleges in the United States. With a focus on student success, the Prize highlights institutions with outstanding achievements in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high-levels of access and success for students of color and low-income students.

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Three ILEA Schools Make Aspen’s Top 150 List

postsecondary_web

CHICAGO, November 20, 2019 — The Partnership for College Completion congratulates ILEA members Elgin Community College, Joliet Junior College, and Moraine Valley Community College for their selection as eligible institutions to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The $1 million prize awarded every two years by the highly-regarded Aspen Institute recognizes high achievement and performance among community colleges in the United States. With a focus on student success, the Prize highlights institutions with outstanding achievements in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high-levels of access and success for students of color and low-income students.

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The Cost of College For Black Students Highlighted At NIU Event

The Cost for College for Black Students Highlighted

November 19, 2019

PETER MEDLIN - Northern Public Radio

The Partnership for College Completion held an event at Northern Illinois University discussing their new reports on the cost of college, specifically for black students.

Along with university officials and local lawmakers, several black NIU students came to the event to talk about their own challenges paying for school.

Gabrielle Sims is a junior at NIU.

She said low-income and minority students can often miss out on college experience.

"You have to work a job that pays but you also want to get experienced in your field," she said, "but the internship is unpaid, and they're both the same amount of hours. You know you've got to pick between paying your phone bill or getting experience in your field to build your resume."

The reports found black students disproportionately take on more loans to pay for college, and at higher rates of interest than their white peers.

But that's if they can even afford to continue their degree at all.

"I know too many people at NIU, too many good students at NIU," said Sims, "who have had to leave because they didn't get their MAP grant like they used to."

The reports call for an increase in MAP grant funding and other need-based aid targeting low-income and underrepresented students.

Glennita Williams is a senior at NIU studying political science. She said she's seen a lot of friends -- black students -- who have had to drop out because they simply couldn't afford to continue their education.

"I was able to get grants and my first semester, but my dad had a pay increase, which kicked me out of state grants," said Williams. "So that's that equity versus equality because I had that opportunity, but no longer able to do that because of a situation."

Williams said, in her case, even though NIU did a good job helping her find scholarships and grants so she can finish, she's still going to graduate in a few months with $50,000 worth of debt.

In the past decade, black student enrollment has dropped across the state everywhere except at for-profit institutions. Those colleges are also more costly than public or private-non-profit schools.

Source: https://www.northernpublicradio.org/post/cost-college-black-students-highlighted-niu-event

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2019 ILEA Fall Summit Recap

The third ILEA Summit was held October 30, 2019, on the campus of Moraine Valley Community College (MVCC) with over 150 staff, faculty and administrators from the ILEA cohort in attendance. The theme of the Summit was "Equity-Minded, Data Driven: Building Campus Capacity to Close Completion Gaps."

The day-long event was kicked off with a warm welcome from MVCC President Dr. Sylvia Jenkins, and MVCC Student Trustee Drew Williams, followed by a presentation from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other speakers.

Morning keynote presentations from Dr. Kenyatta Lovett, Assistant Commissioner of Workforce Services at the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, and Dr. Anthony Carnevale, Research Professor and Director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, highlighted the importance of using state-level and workforce data to build supports for students that connect college to career.

During the afternoon, Dr. Sarah Whitley, Senior Director of First-generation Student Success at NASPA, focused on higher education institutions supporting first-generation students, while Dr. Jillian Kinzie, Associate Director of the Indiana University for Postsecondary Research and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Institute discussed the importance of using student engagement data in their respective workshops.

Lisa Castillo Richmond, Managing Director of PCC presented on the "State of ILEA: From Planning to Implementation" and Mike Abrahamson, PCC Policy Analyst, presented on the recently released PCC College Affordability Studies. Additional sessions were conducted on strategy topics including: Building a data-informed and equity focused culture; Providing access and supports for undocumented students; Using student voice in our work; and Leveraging National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) dashboards.

PCC would like to thank all presenters and participants of this fall summit.

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ISU News: Priced Out: Rural Students On Illinois’ Disinvestment In Higher Education & What Can Be Done About It

November 1, 2019

Over the last two decades, Illinois has gone through a period of disinvestment in higher education, seeing continued losses in higher education appropriations and underinvestment in student financial aid. From 2002 to 2018, funding for Illinois public universities was cut over 50 percent and community colleges saw similar disinvestment. This environment created an increased financial strain for the state's colleges and universities, leaving them little choice but to raise tuition in order to make up for the loss in funding, effectively shifting the burden to pay onto students. (Partnership for College Completion)

Source: https://news.illinoisstate.edu/2019/11/higher-education-resources-90/

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New Reports Say, In Order to Increase Equity, Illinois Needs to Change How It Funds Higher Ed

Northern Public Radio

November 13, 2019

PETER MEDLIN - Northern Public Radio

An advocacy group is calling on Illinois to make higher education more equitable for students. It says that means changing the way it funds post-secondary schooling.

Before they dug into the numbers, Kyle Westbrook said his group wanted to try to reframe the conversation around the cost of college in Illinois.

He's the executive director of the Partnership for College Completion. The organization just released three "Priced Out" reports analyzing state disinvestment in higher education. He said universities and lawmakers have often looked at higher-ed funding from the point of view of the schools.

And while it's important to talk about program cuts, layoffs and maintenance, they wanted the reports to be from the students' perspective.

"It shouldn't be surprising that as higher education has become much less affordable over the last 15 years, particularly for low-income students," he said, "it shouldn't be a surprise that we see that impact being felt on students who are at least able to afford to attend college."

The organization says state funding for public universities has fallen 50% since 2002. Community colleges have experienced similar dis-investments.

The reports look at three student groups who experience affordability challenges: African-American, LatinX and students who live in rural communities.

The number of black students enrolled at Illinois public and private non-profit universities fell by thousands over the past decade.

Westbrook said the Partnership was also dismayed to find those students disproportionately take on loans and debt at higher rates to fund their education.

"It's not even close between where black students are borrowing on average and where LatinX and white students are borrowing," he said. "I think the gap was pretty substantial and surprising to us to see. And obviously the implications are for generations of students, not just the students who borrow themselves."

Westbrook said because of these findings, his organization believes the state should change how higher-ed is funded. The reports propose changes that would incentivize public universities and community colleges to recruit underrepresented low-income and minority students.

"Do all students see our public institutions as viable options?," said Westbrook. "And I think that, you know, obviously the answer to that is no."

This spring, Illinois lawmakers passed a "direct admissions" pilot program. This would automatically admit students to participating public colleges and universities if they finished in the top 10% of their class, along with a few other requirements.

The report advocates for similar programs, especially if they're expanded to further help those underrepresented students.

The report also recommends scaling back merit-based scholarship programs in favor of increased need-based aid like the state's Monetary Award Program, or MAP.

"What we end up doing often with our merit-based programs," he said, "is we end up sort of making the rich richer."

That's because of how much those scholarships factor in scores from tests like the ACT and SAT. Westbrook said those aren't good barometers of college success. He said grade point averages are more accurate.

That's because, he said, wealthier schools can offer more test prep courses and tutors to help kids perform better on those tests.

Once they're in college, African-American and LatinX students are disproportionately tossed into zero-credit developmental courses.

"Students are spending their money or their precious financial aid on those courses," said Westbrook. "We know that there are better ways to do it."

For that, the report proposes transitional math and science classes in high school to keep up academic momentum going into college.

The research finds one area where Illinois higher-ed succeeds is in bachelor's degree completion for transfer students.

But Westbrook said it's important to disaggregate that data. LatinX students are much less likely to transfer at all. They're less likely to take out loans. And more likely to be first-generation college students.

Another group much less likely to transfer are students from rural communities.

Westbrook said these students are too often left out of higher-ed discussions in Illinois.

That could partially be due to shifting demographics, as rural populations shrink more and more.

"If state policy can't reverse those macro trends," he said, "state policy certainly should not accelerate them."

There are other college experiences outside the classroom that are inaccessible to many students. Those can be unpaid internships or study abroad trips.

"There are all of these hidden costs of college," he said. "That can either enrich the experience for students, or can make the experience not as impactful as it could be, or than it is for certain groups of students who could afford those opportunities."

Westbrook said that's because the true cost of college goes far beyond tuition or room and board.

This story was also featured on Tri States Public Radio on November 14, 2019.

Source: https://www.northernpublicradio.org/post/new-reports-say-order-increase-equity-illinois-needs-change-how-it-funds-higher-ed



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Rurality, Race, and College Access in Illinois

November 11, 2019

Dr. Marci Rockey - Office of Community College Research and Leadership College of Education University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Partnership for College Completion recently released the third in a series of reports on college affordability and access in Illinois. These reports center the impact of state disinvestment in higher education on three student subpopulations including Black, Latinx, and rural students (Partnership for College Completion, 2019). While rural Illinois is predominately white, these subpopulations are not mutually exclusive due to growing racial diversity across the state. Geographical context has implications for racial equity with Latinx students from rural areas having a lower likelihood of obtaining a college degree, while the odds for Black students are consistently low across the state (Partnership for College Completion, 2019). In sum, addressing both racial and geographic educational inequities are critically important.

Rural students are especially impacted by inadequate funding for the state's Monetary Award Program (MAP) that is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis (Mugglestone, Dancy, & Voight, 2019; Partnership for College Completion, 2019). Community college students in Illinois are four times more likely than students at the state's public universities to be denied this funding, which disproportionately impacts rural students who are more likely to enter higher education through these institutions (Partnership for College Completion, 2019). Additional challenges to affordability for rural students include an increased likelihood of being in the lowest income bracket and traveling 40% farther to physically get to a college (Partnership for College Completion, 2019).

For rural students in the lowest income bracket who do access the state's public universities, the cost associated with attendance is among the highest nationwide (Partnership for College Completion, 2019). My own research on rural populations in higher education began by studying the declining enrollment of rural Illinois students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Nationwide, the Institute for Higher Education Policy has identified that most flagship institutions, founded on a historical mission of expanding access for their state's residents, are unaffordable to low-income students (Mugglestone et al., 2019). The recently implemented Illinois Commitment financial aid program has coincided with increased racial and geographic diversity among the freshmen class at Illinois (Vance, 2019). However, access issues for rural students go beyond cost.

Inequities prior to college for developing college and career readiness are of great concern for advancing educational access and attainment for rural students."

While a lack of affordability is indeed problematic, inequities prior to college for developing college and career readiness are of great concern for advancing educational access and attainment for rural students. The impact of the state's teacher shortage on rural districts (Gaines, 2018), as well as being among the states with the lowest average salaries for rural educators (Showalter et al., 2019), exacerbates this opportunity gap. Only 5.6% of rural juniors and seniors in Illinois high schools pass at least one Advanced Placement (AP) exam (Showalter, Hartman, Johnson, & Klein, 2019). However, rural high school students nationwide are more likely to participate in dual-enrollment courses (Showalter et al., 2019). In Illinois, 31.6% of rural female students and 28.8% of rural male students participate in these courses (Showalter et al., 2019). This points to the critical need for partnerships between high schools and postsecondary institutions, especially community colleges, to fill opportunity gaps for developing college and career readiness in rural school districts.

Addressing inequitable funding structures that disadvantage rural school districts, as well as state colleges and universities and financial aid programs that serve rural students, are at the root of overcoming barriers to college access and completion (Mugglestone et al., 2019; Partnership for College Completion, 2019; Showalter et al., 2019). Therefore, educational policy change is critical to the success of rural students in Illinois, one of 10 states nationwide identified as most urgently in need of these changes (Showalter et al., 2019). The failure of the state to address the issue systematically will continue to decrease opportunities for social mobility, leading to detrimental impacts on rural communities and rural students.

References

Gaines, L. V. (2018, June 21). What will it take to fix Illinois' teacher shortage? Illinois Public Media.

Mugglestone, K., Dancy, K., & Voight, M. (2019) Opportunity lost: Net price and equity at public flagship institutions. Institute for Higher Education Policy.

Partnership for College Completion (2019) Priced out: Rural students.

Showalter, D., Hartman, S. L., Johnson, J., & Klein, B. (2019). Why rural matters 2018-2019: The time is now. The Rural School and Community Trust.

Vance, A. (2019, September 12). Class of 2023 sets records for enrollment, diversity, excellence. Illinois News Bureau.

Source: https://occrl.illinois.edu/our-products/voices-and-viewpoints-detail/current-topics/2019/11/11/rurality-race-and-college-access-in-illinois


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New Reports Analyze Who Pays When Higher Ed Funding Falls

November 8, 2019

PETER MEDLIN - WCBU Peoria Public Radio

State disinvestment in higher education has put a college degree out of reach for many Illinois students. That's a key finding from a new series of reports from the Partnership for College Completion.

The "Priced Out" reports focus on the three groups most impacted by funding lapses: Black, Latinx and students who live in rural communities.

The organization says state funding for public universities has fallen 50% since 2002. Community colleges have experienced similar disinvestments.

But it's not just about disinvestment. It's also about how and where funding is given out. "We have to fund our institutions differently," says Kyle Westbrook, Executive Director of the Partnership for College Completion.

The reports propose funding changes to incentivize public universities and community colleges to recruit underrepresented students.

It also recommends scaling back merit-based programs in place of scholarships that are more based on student needs.

"What we end up doing often with our merit-based programs is we end up sort of making the rich richer," he said.

Westbrook says some students don't see some of the state's public universities as equally affordable or representative of the state's overall demographics. He says that's troubling.

"There are all of these hidden costs of college that go far beyond tuition fees and go far beyond room and board that can either enrich the experience for students, or can make the experience not as impactful as it could be, or than it is for certain groups of students who could afford those opportunities," he said.

Westbrook says they were dismayed to find black students disproportionately take on loans and debt to fund their education.

For rural students, the report finds access is the biggest hurdle, especially when populations continue to trend down in those communities.

Source: https://www.peoriapublicradio.org/post/new-reports-analyze-who-pays-when-higher-ed-funding-falls#stream/0

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Rural Students in Illinois Shoulder More Student Debt Than Their Peers

Diverse_Rural_image

November 5, 2019

SARA WEISSMAN - Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

Rural students in Illinois take on more debt to attend college than their peers, preventing them from returning and contributing to their rural communities, a new report found.

The study is part of a series of three reports by the Partnership for College Completion, a higher education advocacy organization in Illinois. The series examines how different groups of students are impacted by the state's dwindling investment in higher education, after state funding for public universities dropped 50% from 2002 to 2018 in Illinois. The first two reports focused on Black and Latinx students.

The goal is to shift the focus from institutions to students in discussions about state disinvestment.

"Over the past couple of years, we've spent a fair amount of time navel gazing and tongue gnashing about the state of higher education in Illinois," said Kyle Westbrook, founding executive director of the Partnership for College Completion. "What we thought was important in these series of reports is to begin to reframe this conversation about disinvestment in higher education in Illinois around its impact on students."

The report on Illinois' rural students found that they have limited access to colleges and universities, partly because they need to travel farther than their peers. The state has 62 private colleges but only 25 of them are located outside the Chicago metropolitan area with only seven of them serving areas with limited college access. According to the report, rural students travel over 100 miles to get to a private college versus students from cities and suburbs, who travel about 30 miles.

Meanwhile, there's a divide between rural students who can afford to leave for college and those who can't, the report found.

Rural households tend to have lower incomes but more financial stability in terms of wealth and assets. But the rural students who go to college are still incurring more student loan debt than their peers. The average cost of tuition for low-income students at a public university in Illinois is $12,800 per year, which is steep compared to other states. Surveyed students from rural areas in Illinois who attended public four-year universities owed about $10,500 in debt while urban and suburban students owed $1,300 less on average.

This may be impacted by the types of institutions they attend. Rural students are more likely to attend high-cost for-profit colleges, the report found. They're also more likely to attend community colleges, where applicants for the Monetary Award Program, Illinois' financial aid, are more than four times more likely to be denied.

Given the distance between rural areas and most Illinois campuses, many rural students in Illinois also partake in online programs, which often cost as much if not more than other programs at public universities and private nonprofit colleges, according to a survey cited in the report.

The study also looks at the compounded access and affordability challenges for rural students of color. While Black students had similar completion rates in urban and rural areas, Latinx students from rural areas were less likely to earn a degree than their urban or suburban peers.

Because of financial strain, research shows rural students are less likely to return to their communities post-graduation. The report cites a national survey which found that 73% of rural students with the highest loan debt move to cities, compared to just 37% of rural students with the least loan debt. Because graduates in rural areas earn lower incomes, student loan debt incentivizes them to move to cities, according to the report.

"Unintentionally, this disinvestment makes it harder for rural students to return to rural areas, which can actually speed up population loss in those areas," said Partnership for College Completion Policy Analyst Michael Abrahamson, the report's author. National studies show "if we can get more rural students with degrees to go back to those rural areas it can actually spur more economic development."

The Partnership for College Completion chose to focus on rural students in part because of an "unstated but just beneath the surface sentiment" among Illinois lawmakers that college affordability is just a Chicago problem, Westbrook said. He stressed that this issue should matter to lawmakers with rural constituents too.

"Race is certainly a part of this, Black and Brown students in particular," he said. "But it cuts across racial lines to affect rural students. When it comes time for voting for state appropriations, we can't set this up as a Democrat versus Republican, downstate versus Chicago area battle, because the impacts are felt across the state."

The report concludes with a number of policy recommendations: upping the state's investment in the Monetary Award Program, increasing funding for colleges that serve high numbers of underrepresented students, limiting or abolishing merit-based aid, offering completion grants and eliminating the Monetary Award Program at for-profit colleges.

The recommendations "chart a vision for the future" and offer ideas for "targeted reinvestment," Abrahamson said. "The bottom line is that there's no substitute for reinvestment in the state."

Source: https://diverseeducation.com/article/158952/


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