The Illinois General Assembly has passed measures that address the growing out-migration of students to colleges and universities outside Illinois.
State Sen. Neil Anderson co-sponsored legislation that would create a four-year Monetary Award Program (MAP grants) for Illinois, as opposed to the yearly and current “first-come, first-serve” process students have to go through. House Bill 5020 would prioritize those students so they continue to receive a MAP grant each year. The legislation includes all institutions of higher education in Illinois.
“For our area, universities in Iowa continue to poach our best and brightest because they can offer financial aid packages for four years,” Anderson said. “Taking the MAP program to a four-year deal allows Illinois schools to compete for students in the same way schools in other states can.”
Anderson also voted in favor of the recently signed Fiscal Year 2019 budget that increases funding for higher education and adds a new merit-based scholarship program (AIM HIGH) funded by $25 million from the state and a matching $25 million from universities. Conditions for the scholarship would include Illinois citizenship and meeting benchmark GPA and test scores.
“The AIM HIGH program and the four-year MAP legislation are all an effort to retain Illinois students and make college more affordable,” Anderson said. “They send a clear message that we want Illinois students here.
“The ‘brain-drain’ of students leaving Illinois each year only hurts the state now and for generations to come. If we can reverse this trend, and I believe these measures will help, we stand a better chance of having students choose Illinois schools and therefore, stand a better chance of them staying in Illinois to start their careers. Our students are the state’s future. If they’re in another state, we lose all that potential.”
From 2011 to 2016, total undergraduate enrollment at Illinois public universities fell 5,127 students, a decline of more than eight percent. Over that same time period, a majority of universities in Illinois saw undergraduate declines:
Chicago State: -57%
Eastern Illinois: -40.4%
Western Illinois: -20.4%
Northern Illinois: -18.2%
Southern Illinois Carbondale: -17.5%
Illinois Springfield: -6%
Illinois State: -.7%
“These statistics paint the picture of the ‘brain-drain,’” Anderson said. “For our area of the state, Western Illinois University, as an example, saw an enrollment decline of more than 20 percent. On the other hand, the University of Iowa, over that same time period, saw an enrollment increase of nearly 14-percent. This is exactly why it is so critical to change the way higher education operates.”
House Bill 5020 now heads to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.
For more information on MAP grants: http://www.isac.org/students/during-college/types-of-financial-aid/grants/monetary-award-program/