Education & Schools
Simon - Make affordable higher education a higher priority PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Kara Beach   
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:56

Colleges call for a vote on Choice Reports bill

CHICAGO – December 12, 2012. Calling for a vote on a key college affordability and transparency bill, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon marked her 12th and final College Affordability Summit today with a visit to Northeastern Illinois University.

Simon said that transparency is one of three basic tenets that will help students afford and complete college. She is backing legislation requiring all degree-granting institutions to publish an annual College Choice Report. The report would help students compare information, such as total costs and completion rates, across all degree-granting institutions in the state and make more informed decisions about where to spend their college dollars.

All 12 public university presidents and the Illinois Community College Board presidents' council submitted letters recently to the House calling for Senate Bill 5248 to be released for a vote before this session ends.

“College Choice Reports will be easy to access and easy to use, helping students find the facts they need to make an informed decision about an institution that will best fit their needs,” said Simon. “I appreciate the great support we have received for Senate Bill 5248, and I look forward to working with Speaker Madigan to bring this bill to the House floor for a vote.”

While increased transparency will help students discover more information about the state’s higher education institutions, Simon has outlined two additional ways stakeholders can work together to make college affordable:

·         Targeted assistance: To better use state resources, Simon wants to strengthen the Monetary Award Program and insure MAP grants promote college attendance and completion, and reduce the achievement gap between low-income and higher-income students. MAP grants are currently awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students based on financial need, but that means state funding reaches only about half of eligible students. Simon currently serves on a MAP Eligibility Task Force that is evaluating ways to improve distributional equity and encourage timely degree completion. A task force report to the General Assembly is due Jan. 1, 2013.

·         Tax credits for tuition payments: More than 9 million students and families are taking advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, saving them up to $10,000 over four years of college. Simon supports making this federal tax credit permanent and preventing it from expiring at the end of this year.

“Cutting investments directly related to economic growth doesn’t make sense. We should work together on policies that prioritize education and employment, not shortchange Illinois students and quality employers,” Simon said."Together we could stabilize the cost for public universities and community colleges, following tuition and fee increases that have outpaced inflation, family incomes and available aid over the past 20 years."

According to a College Board trends report published in October, costs at public and private universities nationwide increased more than 4 percent this school year, while the cost of community college increased more than 5 percent since last school year. Compounding the burden on students, federal aid declined for the first time in three years.

“In order to retain and attract high-wage and high-skill jobs in Illinois, we will need 60 percent of our working-age population to hold a college credential by 2025,” Simon said. “We cannot expect students to complete college if they cannot afford college. I urge our state, federal and higher education leaders to work together to ensure college is not only accessible to the privileged, when it will be a prerequisite for a good job in our state.”

###

 
Governor Quinn, College Students Discuss Impact of Pension Squeeze on Financial Aid for Higher Education PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Erin Wilson   
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:53

Higher Education, MAP Grant Funding at Risk without

Immediate Pension Reform

CHICAGO – December 12, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by Illinois college students to discuss how inaction on pension reform is threatening Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois. One after one, the students made clear how access to higher education changed their lives and prepared them for a job and career. Today’s event is part of the governor’s ongoing effort to educate and activate the people of Illinois to push for pension reform as he continues to work with legislators on the issue.

“A college degree gives students the foundation they need to launch a successful career,” Governor Quinn said. “Nobody has more at stake in pension reform than the students of Illinois. We must make sure every student has the chance to pursue their dreams and the degree of their choosing, and that’s why we must work together to enact comprehensive pension reform by January 9.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that provide students with merit who are in need across Illinois with the opportunity to attend a higher education institution. These grants help cover tuition and fee costs at approved universities and colleges in Illinois, and do not need to be repaid by the student. 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year because of budget reductions to education. Currently, only half of eligible MAP grant applicants are able to receive the aid they need to attend college.

According to the Pew Center for the States, Illinois has the worst-funded pension systems in the nation. As Illinois’ $96 billion unfunded pension liability grows, it squeezes out more and more funding for crucial services such as health care, road repair and MAP college scholarships from the state budget. Unless comprehensive pension reform is enacted, taxpayer dollars that would otherwise be spent on ensuring that deserving students have the opportunity to pursue a degree will instead continue to cover ballooning pension costs.

In April, Governor Quinn proposed a plan that would rescue Illinois’ public pension systems, ensure employees have access to benefits and prevent skyrocketing pension costs from squeezing out core services such as education, health care and public safety. The governor’s plan would fully fund the pension system by 2042. The governor also launched an Internet campaign-Thanks in Advance- to boost public awareness about the “squeeze” caused by soaring pension costs and the urgent need for pension reform. Since launching, more than 34,000 unique visitors have gone to ThisisMyIllinois.com and a video featuring “Squeezy the Pension Python” has been viewed almost 25,000 times.

The legislature is scheduled to work January 3 - 8.

###


 
Lt. Governor Simon: College Affordability is Key PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Kara Beach   
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 16:15

Final Affordability Summit to be held at Northeastern Illinois

CHICAGO – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will convene her final College Affordability Summit on Wednesday at Northeastern Illinois University. Throughout the fall, Simon has met with students, faculty, staff and administrators at each public university campus in Illinois to urge state, federal and higher education leaders to keep college affordable for all students.

Simon says that transparency is key to helping students afford and complete college. She is backing legislation requiring all degree-granting institutions to publish an annual College Choice Report. The report would help students compare information, such as total costs and completion rates, across all degree-granting institutions in the state and make wise choices about where to spend their college dollars. Each of the 12 public university presidents recently signed a letter of support to House Speaker Mike Madigan, requesting the bill’s release from the House Rules Committee. 

An October report from the College Board indicates that public and private universities nationwide have increased costs more than 4 percent this school year, with community college costs up 5 percent. To make ends meet, students have taken on more debt, carrying an average of $26,682 in student loans in 2010 according to the Pew Research Center. 

“As a state, we want to increase the proportion of working-age adults with a college degree or credential to 60 percent, up from 41 percent, by 2025. The only way we can achieve this goal is if college is affordable,” said Simon, a former Southern Illinois University law professor and a member of a state task force evaluating MAP Grant eligibility. “We must work together to rein in the costs of higher education.”

DATE: Wednesday, December 12

TIME: 10:15 a.m.

PLACE: Golden Eagle room, Northeastern Illinois University Student Union, 5500 St. Louis Ave., Chicago

 ###

 
2013 Robert D. Blue Scholarship Application is Available Online PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Karen Austin   
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 09:09

DES MOINES, IA (12/11/2012)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald announced today that the application for the 2013 Robert D. Blue Scholarship is available online at www.rdblue.org. All Iowa residents who plan to attend college in Iowa for the 2013-2014 school year are eligible to apply.

Awards are based on financial need, an original essay, academic achievement and written recommendations. "These scholarships not only help Iowa students financially, but also honor the achievements and potential of the young people of our state," Fitzgerald stated. "Last year, six outstanding students representing six counties were chosen to receive awards. Each of the recipients went on to attend a different Iowa college or university."

The Iowa Centennial Memorial Foundation awards the Robert D. Blue Scholarship to Iowa students attending college in Iowa. Governor Blue created the Foundation in 1949 to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of Iowa's acceptance into the union. At that time, a scholarship fund was established to encourage the youth of the state to attend Iowa's fine colleges and universities. In 1990, the Foundation officially named the scholarship to honor the late Governor Blue.

Robert D. Blue Scholarship applications are only accepted online through May 10 at www.rdblue.org. The winners will be announced during the summer. Those who would like more information on the Robert D. Blue Scholarship should visit the website, or call the treasurer's office at (515) 242-5270.

# # #

 
Governor Quinn Announces Over $34 Million in Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Federal Funding to Strengthen Early Learning Programs in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Thursday, 06 December 2012 16:02

Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge funds will target the state’s neediest children

CHICAGO – December 6, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced Illinois has been awarded a $34.8 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support quality early childhood education in Illinois.

Illinois was one of only 14 states selected for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge. The grant funds will help Illinois connect children most at risk of school failure with high-quality early learning programs.

“Illinois has been a leader in early learning for decades and we will now be able to further strengthen that leadership through the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge,” Governor Quinn said.  “The achievement gap begins before a child steps into kindergarten. Empowering our children with a solid education foundation before they begin kindergarten is the most crucial investment we can make in a future workforce that will drive economic growth in Illinois.”

The Illinois State Board of Education, Department of Human Services and Department of Children and Family Services will work together to improve the quality of all early learning and development programs in the state through this grant.  The federal grant will be used to: create a new Quality Rating and Improvement System to inform parents about program quality through a website that will be fully implemented in July 2014. In addition, the grant will help communities connect children with the greatest needs to high-quality programs, strengthen the quality of early learning programs, and support the development of great teachers for early learning programs.  These funds will also allow the state to make important one-time investments to improve efficiency, streamline program administration and data systems and evaluate effectiveness for early childhood programs.

“Making sure young children and their families get the support they need to prepare children for success in school and later life requires coordinated effort from all of our agencies,” said Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Michelle Saddler.

"Early childhood funding is one of the best investments we can make for the success and prosperity of future generations and our Illinois economy,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “These funds will allow us to improve our infrastructure to better serve early learners and make more efficient use of state resources toward that purpose."

Illinois was one of five states eligible to compete for the second round of the grant, which was submitted in October to the U.S. Department of Education.  The state was one of 35 states to apply for the first round of funding and was found eligible to apply for the second round based on its performance.

Illinois’ application is designed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of early childhood education in Illinois by taking a patchwork of early learning programs and integrating them into a unified system and increasing early childhood program quality—making sure that all programs provide quality education and helping already good programs become great.

To learn more about the Illinois plan for the Early Learning Challenge, please visit:  http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/OECD/Pages/EarlyLearningChallenge.aspx

 ###

 
<< Start < Prev 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 Next > End >>

Page 187 of 369