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Gov. Pritzker’s 2023 Budget to Make Investments in Higher Education

Higher education leaders across the state applaud Governor Pritzker’s budget announcement today which includes a fiscal year 2023 higher education budget of $2.2 billion, an increase of $208 million compared to current spending levels. Highlights from the budget recommendations include a $122M increase in the state’s need-based student grants through the Monetary Award Program (MAP), a $54.8 million (5%) increase in funding for public universities and a $13.2 million (5%) increase in funding for community colleges starting in the current fiscal year and continuing into fiscal year 2023, $25 million for a new program to expand the health care workforce through the state’s community college system, a $2.8 million increase to support recruitment and retention of nurse professionals, and a $2.8 million increase for scholarships to attract more minority teaching candidates and grow more minority faculty.

The budget recommendations also call for eliminating the remaining unfunded liabilities for the state’s pre-paid tuition program, College Illinois!®. This one-time $230 million investment will bring immediate relief and comfort to the nearly 25,000 contract holders who have faced uncertainty about the state’s ability to meet its fiscal obligations. Moreover, the payment will save the state $75 million by avoiding future payments on the unfunded liabilities.

“Governor Pritzker continues to champion higher education as the backbone of a thriving Illinois with a budget that makes substantial investments in higher education. We are thrilled that the Governor’s budget reflects so many of the Board’s recommendations,” said IBHE Board Chair John Atkinson. The IBHE’s budget recommendation to the Governor, adopted on January 10, 2022, reflects the three goals of the new higher education strategic plan, A Thriving Illinois: Higher Education Paths to Equity, Sustainability, and Growth.  The Board recommended additional investment in MAP as a strategy to increase affordability by reaching $1 billion in MAP funding within ten years. The Board also recommended a five percent increase for community colleges and five percent for public universities.

“Today’s budget address shows once again that Governor Pritzker believes in the tremendous value of higher education to the State of Illinois,” said Ginger Ostro, IBHE Executive Director. “Higher education is the driver of inclusive economic growth, and the Governor’s budget makes equity-driven investments to close the gaps that have left Black, Brown, low-income, working adult, and rural students behind, while supporting our institutions to invest in talent development and innovation.”

The Governor’s budget creates more opportunities for working adults by expanding the financial assistance of the MAP program to those working towards one of the thousands of shorter-term credentials not previously eligible for financial aid. Expanding eligibility for the MAP program will better allow the need-based financial aid program to meet Illinois residents where they are on their journey to economic empowerment, regardless of whether their path is on the road to job training, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree.

It also invests $25 million aimed to expand the health care workforce with a new Pipeline for Advancement of Healthcare (PATH) Workforce program to encourage and support Illinoisans to enter health care fields through our community colleges. The budget also includes an additional $2.8 million to encourage and support the recruitment and retention of nurse professionals.

“We know the Illinois Community College System is an economic driver for Illinois as our recent Economic Impact Study shows. I applaud Governor Pritzker for recognizing the value of community colleges and their students across the state. Whether it’s expanding MAP funding to students enrolled in short-term certificate programs so they can better their lives through education or providing more money to address the critical need for healthcare workers in Illinois through career and technical training, this budget reflects a significant investment in Illinois community colleges and the communities and students they serve,” said ICCB Executive Director, Brian Durham.

The proposed historic investment in MAP is a giant step toward the goal in A Thriving Illinois for MAP to cover at least half of the average tuition and fees for low-income students at public colleges and universities, while also serving more students.

“The Governor’s proposed increase in MAP would fulfill his goal to increase MAP funding by 50% over his first term and would bring MAP to another historic high,” said ISAC Executive Director Eric Zarnikow. “The increase would allow Illinois to make critical advances in access, affordability, and opportunity. More than 6,400 additional degree-seeking, low-income students could be offered grants who wouldn’t have qualified previously; nearly 18,000 students seeking certificates shorter than one year could now apply for grants for the first time; and MAP grant size could increase by an average of about 20%, significantly improving the purchasing power of MAP and increasing the chance that a student will enroll, persist and graduate with less debt.”

Highlights of the fiscal year 2023 budget and its relationship to A Thriving Illinois include:

  • $122 million increase in MAP, while also expanding MAP to shorter credential programs of less than one year and to the summer term, when funding is available.
    Supports Sustainability Strategy 2: Increase MAP each year to reach $1 billion over ten years and Strategy 3: allow MAP to be used year-round.
  • $54.8 million (5%) increase in funding for public universities through a supplemental appropriation starting in the fiscal year 2022 and continuing in the fiscal year 2023.
    Supports Sustainability Strategy 1: invest in public higher education that is adequate, equitable, and stable
  • $13.2 million (5%) increase in funding for community colleges through a supplemental appropriation starting in the fiscal year 2022 and continuing in the fiscal year 2023, and $2.5 million (5%) increase for adult education and career and technical education.
    Supports Sustainability Strategy 1: invest in public higher education that is adequate, equitable, and stable
  • $25 million for the Pipeline for Advancement of Healthcare (PATH) Workforce, a new program to expand the health care workforce and additional $2.8 million to encourage and support recruitment and retention of nurse professionals.
    Supports Growth Strategy 3: Align the state’s economic development and higher education strategies.
  • $0.5 million to increase the Diversifying Faculty in Illinois program, expanding the number of fellowships to increase the number of minority faculty.
    Supports Equity Strategy 3: to increase and retain faculty, staff, and administrators of color.
  • $2.3 million in additional funding for the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program to help address the teacher shortage and improve the diversity of the teacher workforce.
    Supports Growth Strategy 7: Enhance access to educator preparation programs.
  • $230 million to fully fund College Illinois! to meet commitments to families who pre-paid for college through the College Illinois! program.
    Supports Sustainability Strategy 6: Creative options for building family savings

The Governor’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal now goes to the Illinois General Assembly for consideration. If authorized by the legislature and signed by the Governor, the budget would go into effect on July 1, 2022.

The post Gov. Pritzker’s 2023 Budget to Make Investments in Higher Education appeared first on Chicago Defender.

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