"A work in progress, always." Pritzker says higher education funding is at its highest level ever in Illinois
JB Pritzker visited the SIU Carbondale campus on Thursday
Governor JB Pritzker visited SIU Carbondale on Thursday to celebrate the budget Illinois lawmakers passed last week, and in particular increases in higher education funding.
The new fiscal plan - which takes effect July 1 - includes increases in operational funds, but also boosts the state's MAP Grant and AIM High programs. SIUC Chancellor Austin Lane says those programs are critical for his campus.
"That helps our recruiters, it helps our administrators as they talk with prospective students, and it's going to be a game changer for this institution. We expect our enrollment to increase. We expect our students to stay in the state."
State Senator Dale Fowler, who co-chairs the Senate's Higher Education Committee, says he's seen a big change in the number of young people in his district staying in Illinois for college. He says several years ago, many would head out-of-state, and he's worked hard to turn that around.
"This means ensuring that our universities are properly and adequately funded, as well as programs designed to attract and keep Illinois students here - like MAP Grants and AIM High programs."
Higher Education saw a 7% increase in operational funding in the FY '24 budget. MAP Grant funding is up $100 million, and the AIM High program will see a $15 million boost.
Pritzker says building back colleges and universities from their cuts during the budget impasse is a work in progress.
"We've increased funding, and we've made sure that we're working closely with our universities to figure out what do they need to attract more students, to make sure and stabilize and build on the great faculty that already exist, and make sure we're building the right programs on campus with our Rebuild Illinois program."
Pritzker and others say higher education funding is an investment in the future, as well as in the local economy.