Illinois Politicians Spar Over Grant Funding

January 15, 2016

Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner appears to be trying to stymie attempts by the state's Democratic-controlled Legislature to pay back universities that have covered the cost of millions in state grants this academic year.

Illinois continues to operate without a fiscal 2016 higher education budget, and as a result public funding for Monetary Award Program grants for some 125,000 students hasn't been approved (despite the fact that recipients last year were promised the funds by the state). In the midst of the ongoing budget crisis, most public and private universities have covered the grants, warning students they could be on the hook for the cash if the state doesn't eventually fund the MAP program.

Senate Democrats introduced a bill this week seeking $182 million to pay universities back for covering the grants in the fall. But a memo from Richard Goldberg, the governor's deputy chief of staff, sent to legislators just before the legislative introduction indicates that the measure does not have the support of the governor. The memo criticizes colleges and universities for cronyism, reckless spending and constant tuition hikes, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, public funding for the state's public universities is also in limbo as the Legislature and governor spar over the budget.

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