Funding begins recovery after two years of devastation at institutions of higher education
CHARLESTON -- Using over $695 million in existing education funds, Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza announced today the first release of funds to state colleges and universities in more than seven months.
The recent override of Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of the state’s first comprehensive budget in over two years provided appropriation authority to utilize existing higher education funds.
State colleges and universities had not received funding since the expiration of the “stopgap” budget on Jan. 1, 2017.
Comptroller Mendoza met with Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman Thursday morning as her office expedited a payment of $5.7 million to the school. EIU, Western Illinois University in Macomb and Chicago State University had been among those hardest hit by the budget impasse.
President Glassman showed Comptroller Mendoza some of the deferred maintenance on campus. Like other Illinois universities suffering through the last two years without a state budget, Eastern had to lay off more than 400 staff, Glassman said.
The release of $327 million for the MAP program will go toward an estimated 110,000 students from all over Illinois who qualified under the need-based award program for the 2016-17 academic year that just ended this Spring. These funds will fulfill the state’s commitment to those students attending public and private universities, colleges and community colleges who had to worry all year long whether the state would honor its commitment.
Comptroller Mendoza had been urging legislators and the Governor to deliver these funds for several months as the budget impasse stretched into its second year.
“The state’s institutions of higher education were devastated by the budget crisis and their mistreatment proved to a be a breaking point for legislators on both sides of the aisle. Delivering this money will provide immediate aid to students, parents, faculty and administrators who have struggled for more than two years to pay their bills.”
“Like the many legislators who supported a bipartisan budget solution last week, my office is committed to helping our colleges and universities recover from the unprecedented – and unnecessary – wreckage,” Comptroller Mendoza said.
Under Governor Rauner, state funding to public colleges and universities over the last two years was cut more than 60 percent. During this time, the credit rating of five major state colleges and universities dropped to junk status.
The funds released today will provide for payments that were owed to universities, colleges and to students eligible under the need based Monetary Award Program (MAP). They will benefit Chicago State University; Eastern Illinois University; Governors State University; Illinois State University; Northeastern Illinois University; Northern Illinois University; Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and Edwardsville; the University of Illinois system and its schools in Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign; and Western Illinois University; as well as other schools with MAP grant students in attendance. State universities will receive $327 million in funding. The remaining $36 million will be delivered to state community colleges.
Overall, the new bipartisan budget provides about $1.1 billion to higher education for the past fiscal year.
Additionally, the Comptroller has directed her Office to work with the universities and colleges to begin issuing another $160 million to public universities and community colleges for operational support from the state. Payments have already begun to be released as vouchers are submitted to the Office.
Many public institutions had to exhaust their local reserves to the point that it has threatened their ability to even make debt service payments. The release of these payments will ensure that these institutions can open the fall semester on time without disruption to staff and operations.
“Our schools and our students need stability. These desperately needed past-due payments will bring more stability to operations going into the fall semester and provide a reassurance to the accrediting and credit rating agencies that state funds are on the way,” Comptroller Mendoza said.
Our state’s public institutions provide benefits that extend well beyond their campuses. Every $1 invested in Higher Ed generates $4 in economic activity for the state.