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May 9, 2006

Governor Blagojevich, college students celebrate new plan to make college more affordable
Fiscal Year 2007 budget to help 225,000 college students pay for college; creates first grant program in Illinois specifically targeted at helping middle class families pay for college; FY07 budget includes a $48 million increase for higher education

CHAMPAIGN – Gov. Blagojevich joined University of Illinois students and faculty to celebrate passage of legislation that creates the first program ever in Illinois specifically targeted at helping middle class families pay for college.  MAP Plus provides $500 grants to college sophomores, juniors and seniors from families with incomes below $200,000.  The Fiscal Year 2007 budget also includes increased funding for the existing MAP program.  In total, 225,000 students will benefit from the creation of MAP Plus and the additional funding for MAP. 
“For four years, we’ve been changing the priorities of state government. We're now a state that guarantees health care to every child, a state that gives every child a chance to go to preschool, a state that invests billions more in its schools, a state that helps hundreds of thousands of working men and women purchase affordable health care for their families and a state that gives middle class families the help they need to send their kids to college.  MAP Plus is the first program ever in Illinois specifically designed to help middle class families afford the high cost of college. These are the kinds of things that make a real difference in people’s lives,” said Governor Blagojevich.
Senate Bill 2225, sponsored by Sen. Edward Maloney (D-Chicago) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park), created the new MAP Plus program.  MAP Plus will provide a $500 per student grant for sophomores, juniors and seniors from families with incomes less than $200,000 who attend college in Illinois, but did not receive MAP. In total, 225,000 students will benefit from the creation of MAP Plus and the additional funding for MAP.  Funding for the MAP program this year is increased by $34.4 million – increasing MAP grants to their statutory maximum of up to $4,968 – which will help more students and their parents afford college. The FY07 budget also includes nearly $35 million more for the Monetary Award Program, to help even more students and their parents afford college. 
The average annual cost of tuition and fees to attend a public university in Illinois is more than $7,000, and the average cost for private colleges is more than $18,000, according to Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) data.  Nationally, the average yearly cost in tuition and fees for public universities is $9,200, and $24,000 for private universities, according to the National Council of Education Statistics.
Studies show a continuing gap between what working families can afford and the cost of an undergraduate’s education.  Yet a college-educated workforce remains critical for the state’s economic future.  Estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau show that lifetime earnings are over $900,000 greater for a person with a bachelor’s degree versus a high school graduate.
"This record investment to the MAP program and creation of MAP Plus will provide much needed relief as families work and sacrifice to pay for a college education," said Don McNeil, Chair of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. "Every dollar counts as they struggle to pay for college and these funds will make that gap easier for them to fill. I thank the Governor and General Assembly for their commitment to this initiative."
"We applaud the Governor for the MAP Plus program, which is an important expansion of student aid to reach those families often caught in that middle ground between qualifying for MAP and having the resources to pay for the rising cost of college.  MAP Plus will assist students that increasingly must rely on loans to help them access a college education," Judy Erwin, Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, said.   "The increased funding embraced by the Governor and state lawmakers for higher education will also address vital needs for students, including affordability, college access and success for disadvantaged students, and other critical areas such as the need for nursing educators.”
The FY07 budget also includes a $48 million increase for higher education.  Universities will receive more than $18 million to attract and retain the best faculty, and community college grants will increase by almost $7 million. 
Funding specifically for the University of Illinois was increased $12.7 million in the FY07 budget, an increase of 1.8 percent over last year.  Total University of Illinois funding is $710.6 million.
Included in the University of Illinois’ budget is a $500,000 capital grant to the Orr Agricultural and Demonstration Center for the construction of a new livestock building; a $350,000 grant for Pathways to Health Professions, a program that encourages students to enter health fields; and $500,000 for the University of Illinois library digitalization project.
Other education highlights in the FY07 budget include:

Investing in Children

Over four years, Governor Blagojevich dedicated $3.8 billion of new funding into Illinois schools.  This represents more new money invested in education than any other state in the Midwest, more than 43 other states in the nation, and more than any administration in one term in Illinois history.
For the fourth consecutive year, Governor Blagojevich has provided a major increase in education funding - $415 million more for PreK-12 education.  The budget also funds new initiatives proposed by the Governor including universal preschool, a pilot program to reduce class sizes in kindergarten through 3rd grade, and a grant program for families struggling to afford the high costs of college. 
Preschool for All
Preschool for All makes Illinois the only state in the nation to begin the process of providing access to high-quality pre-school for every three-year-old and four-year-old child in Illinois.  The program, which guarantees that in the end approximately 190,000 Illinois children will have the chance to attend preschool, will reach working families who are not able to afford the high cost of private preschool.  Funding for pre-school programs will increase by $45 million this year, allowing 10,000 more children to get an early start on their education.  Students who attend preschool are 20 percent more likely to graduate high school, 41 percent less likely to need special education and 42 percent less likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime.  Studies also show that for every dollar spent on early childhood education, society saves at least $7 through decreased reliance on social services. Participation in the program for parents is voluntary.  The Preschool for All legislation, Senate Bill 1497, was sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Westchester) and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago).
Classroom Size Reduction
To help reduce class sizes, Governor Blagojevich earmarked $10 million to help schools pay for more teacher salaries and benefits.  Senate Bill 2882, sponsored by Sen. Terry Link (D-Lake Bluff) and Rep. Michael Smith (D-Canton), creates a pilot program that will distribute the $10 million award as $50,000 grants equally among suburban, downstate, and Chicago Public Schools.  More teachers mean smaller classes.  And, smaller classes mean more attention for each student from the teacher and a better learning environment.


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