Historic investments help bolster equity in higher education and expand recruitment and retention efforts
[This news release originates from the State of Illinois, accessed via IBHE]
SPRINGFIELD, IL - Higher education leaders across the state are celebrating the comprehensive FY 2023 state budget recently passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed by Governor JB Pritzker on April 19, which includes a historic higher education budget of $2.24 billion – representing a $248.5 million increase from last year and the largest increase in over 20 years. This budget will help ensure Illinois continues to make meaningful progress towards creating an equitable, sustainable higher education system that provides broad paths to a prosperous future for every learner, leader, and community in our state.
Among the highlights in the FY 2023 state budget are a $122 million increase in the state’s need-based student grants Monetary Award Program (MAP), a $54.8 million (5 percent) increase in funding for public universities, and a $13.2 million (5 percent) increase in funding for community colleges starting in the current fiscal year and continuing into FY 2023.
"We know access to education can change the trajectory of a student’s life, families' lives, and their communities," said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. "Our administration is committed to opening doors for learners and ensuring they and our institutions of education are supported, and this budget reflects that. We are building the vision for affordable, equitable education."
This historic investment in MAP is the largest ever and moves us closer to reaching our goal of $1 billion in MAP funding in 10 years. These crucial funds will create more opportunities for students attending community colleges by expanding MAP eligibility to over 2,000 short-term credit-bearing certificate programs not previously eligible for financial aid. Expanding eligibility for MAP grants will also help meet the needs of Illinois residents on their journey to economic empowerment, regardless of whether their path is job training, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree.
Additionally, the budget includes an increase of $2.3 million for the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) scholarship to attract more teaching candidates of color to high-need schools, and an increase of $535,000 for the Diversifying Faculty Initiative to increase minority faculty.
The budget also includes important investments for recruitment and retention efforts in health care: $25 million for the Pipeline for Advancement of the Healthcare (PATH) Workforce, a new program to expand the health-care workforce through the state’s community college system; $10 million for the Behavioral Health Workforce Education Center, a new partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services and higher education to expand the number of behavioral health-care workers; $6 million for new scholarship and loan repayment programs for school social workers; and $5 million for the new Community Behavioral Health Care Professional Loan Repayment Program. These efforts will increase the state’s health-care workforce as we continue to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These historic investments in our state’s public universities, community colleges and recruitment and retention priorities will help ensure access to college is more equitable and that money is not a barrier for populations that have historically been denied the resources for obtaining the education needed for economic mobility,” said IBHE Board Chair John Atkinson. “A stronger, more skilled workforce will provide employers the diverse talent needed to foster a thriving Illinois.”
“Illinois Community Colleges already account for $3.5 billion in economic output and more than 43,000 jobs across Illinois. The increased overall funding this year will allow our system to create even more opportunities for students no matter where you live,” said ICCB Board Chair Lazaro Lopez.
“This budget reflects the crucial, equity-driven priorities of the Illinois Board of Higher Education,” said IBHE Executive Director Ginger Ostro. “We are eager to continue to work collaboratively with higher education leaders from across the state to strategically use these funds to deliver results that close equity gaps that have historically negatively impacted students of color, students from low-income households, students from rural communities and working adults.”
“We applaud Governor Pritzker’s continued support of community colleges. This increased investment will not only fill a critical need for healthcare workers in our state. Funding these career technical education programs will also allow thousands of Illinoisans to earn a certificate over the course of months, not years, and will put them on a path to a good-paying, meaningful career in the healthcare field quickly,” said ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham.
Also noteworthy is the one-time $230 million payment which will eliminate the estimated unfunded liability for the state’s pre-paid tuition program, College Illinois!®. These funds 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 to participating students and families. The payment will also save the state $75 million over the long term.
“Increasing MAP funding to a historic high of $601 million means that the program will likely serve all eligible applicants with larger awards—improving the purchasing power of MAP and significantly increasing access to higher education for students who might not otherwise have thought it was possible,” said ISAC Executive Director Eric Zarnikow. “This extensive investment in education, including the supplemental appropriation for the College Illinois! Prepaid Tuition Program, reflects the State’s commitment to meeting its obligations and working to ensure that every student in Illinois has the educational opportunity they deserve.”
Highlights of the fiscal year 2023 budget: