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Letter from Senior Policy Manager Emily Goldman

This week, the Governor and the legislature made clear that they view higher education as a priority for the future of our state. Thanks to your tireless advocacy efforts to increase funding for higher education in Illinois, the state legislature passed a historic $601 million total investment in the Monetary Award Program (MAP) for the FY23 budget – an increase of $122 million over last year’s budget.  

This extraordinary investment will help more students across Illinois be able to afford college and finish their education. MAP is essential to ensuring that higher education is accessible to everyone who wants a college degree, and we must continue to make these strong investments so that every student has a chance to thrive in Illinois in the years to come. We are so thrilled and thankful that our elected leaders made this crucial investment in our students.

The Partnership thanks the General Assembly, Governor Pritzker, and our fellow advocates for making this budget a reality! For our full statement on this historic investment, click here.

Snapshot of Illinois Higher Education Policy

Legislative Recap

This year’s legislative session was like no other. The legislative session was condensed to give legislators campaign time ahead of the June primaries, session days were canceled when Omicron caused a spike in COVID-19 cases, and members held most committee meetings virtually.  Despite the unusual session format and lighter bill list, there were several higher education bills that made their way through the General Assembly, including a number of proposals that would increase college access for students and support their persistence toward a degree.

Headed to the Governor’s Desk

According to New America, transcript withholding impacts an estimated 6.6 million students across the country. Although research suggests the practice is largely ineffective as a debt collection tool, institutions continue this practice of refusing to release official transcripts to students who owe debt to the institution. Without access to their transcripts, students who hope to continue their education at another institution are usually unable to transfer credits to their new school and must decide whether to leave the previous credits behind and start over.  The practice of transcript withholding has been known to also cost some students employment opportunities when providing proof of their college education requires an official transcript. 

SB3032 (Fine/Morgan) aims to address the latter concern, requiring institutions to release official transcripts of current and former students to current or potential employers, even if the student owes a debt. While the bill does not go as far as eliminating the practice altogether, it is a step toward advancing socioeconomic mobility for students who would otherwise lose out on employment opportunities. 

This session, the General Assembly also passed two bills that will help more eligible students access benefit programs. SB3149 (Villanueva/Guzzardi) will help ensure students with dependents have information on childcare assistance programs, and HB4201 (West/Pacione-Zayas) will require public colleges and universities to designate a benefits navigator to help students determine eligibility for public benefit programs and campus and community resource support. Both policies will be key in helping students persist in their education while also bringing more federal resources into the state. 

Highlights from Illinois’ FY23 Budget

On the last day of a shortened session, the Illinois legislature passed a budget that most notably increased investment in the Monetary Award Program (MAP) by $122 million – a historic increase that will serve as many an additional 6,400 degree-seeking students and 18,000 students in short-term certificate programs. The budget also includes a 5% increase in college and university funding and investments in financial aid programs that will help make college more affordable for students seeking careers with high market demand. Additionally, it more than doubled funding to the Minority Teachers of Illinois scholarship that aims to increase the representation of teachers of color in Illinois. Read more here.

Snapshot of Federal Higher Education Policy

President Biden’s Budget proposes an increase Pell grants
President Biden released his proposed budget at the end of March, and in it was a substantial increase to the Pell Grant program, which increases college affordability for students from low-income backgrounds. The budget calls for a $2,175 increase in the maximum award amount and would serve an extra 500,000 students.

The Hope Center Releases #RealCollege Federal Priorities for 2022
The Hope Center at Temple University, a leading national voice for equitably meeting college students’ basic needs, released their 2022 recommendations for federal policy changes. They include removing work requirements and other eligibility restrictions for students receiving public food, housing, and financial supports. They also call for maintaining flexibility and funding to programs that were started to support students in the pandemic.


Take Action

Celebrate the Historic MAP Investment!

Throughout session, higher education advocates took action for Illinois college and university students. In March, PCC joined Young Invincibles in holding a Virtual Advocacy Day to elevate student voices and experiences and to urge lawmakers to pass the proposed increased investment in MAP. Advocate voices were heard and now thousands more Illinois students will be able to afford their degrees.

  1. Thank the General Assembly for prioritizing college students in this year’s budget. Click here to share your appreciation on social media. 

    Thank you @ILSenDems @ILSenateGOP @HouseDemsIL @ilhousegop for making Illinois college and university students a priority in this year’s budget. When we invest in #highered, we invest in Illinois’ future. pic.twitter.com/xnV3VaGUAp
  2. Join the Coalition for Transforming Higher Education Funding for its next meeting on April 21, 2022 at 10am to celebrate the recent budget victory, finalize the coalition’s guiding principles, and help build out a plan for the work ahead. Contact Sonianne Lozada (slozada@partnershipfcc.org) for more information and to register.