SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a stop in Springfield Wednesday that his budget proposal, with more money for higher education, will provide the largest increase in community college funding in two decades.
“Illinois’ community colleges serve as an accelerator for local economies and individual students alike,” he said. “Illinois is poised to make history: making it possible for every working-class resident to get the degree, training, and skills they need – tuition free and fee free.”
Pritzker’s plan, which is likely to receive legislative approval, would add money for programs and building needs. The governor said system funding for day-to-day operations at community colleges has increased by over $25 million since the start of his administration, and the proposed budget will add nearly $20 million in additional dollars.
Funds would also be available for dual credit and non-credit workforce grant programs, advanced manufacturing and electric vehicle technologies workforce training programs, upgrades to Title II Adult Education programs, and an expansion of English language services.
The governor’s budget adds another $100 million for the Monetary Award Program, providing grants to help needy students pay for school. Pritzker said that would bring MAP funding to the highest level in state history.
Student Keziah Gragg will receive her Associate Degree this summer. She is a MAP grant and federal Pell grant recipient. She said that funding allowed her to attend college after her father died.
“Instead of leaving college with student loans, I’ll be graduating from Lincoln Land Community College debt free,” she said.
Lincoln Land President Charlotte Warren said so far this year, the school’s students have received $2.5 million in MAP grants, an increase of $1.3 million from the previous year.
“When students receive MAP funding to cover their college costs, they can spend more time focusing on their studies and less time working to pay their bills,” she said. Warren also mentioned investments resulting in free training to help increase the pipeline of health care, early childhood and highway construction workers.
Pritzker, flanked by Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and Lincoln Land President Charlotte Warren, also pointed out money going to infrastructure needs on college campuses. The Rebuild Illinois capital program is providing $3.8 million for renovations at Menard Hall on the LLCC campus.