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January 30, 2004


SPRINGFIELD - Reflecting concerns over the state's ongoing fiscal crisis, the Illinois Board of Higher Education will act February 3 on a $2.34 billion general funds budget for higher education operations and grants in fiscal 2005. The recommended budget represents a decrease of $79.8 million, or 3.3 percent from fiscal 2004 appropriations.

Excluding general funds support for pensions and health insurance, the proposed budget is $2.06 billion, a decrease of $38.5 million, or 1.8 percent. Counting all sources of funds - both appropriated and non-appropriated dollars, such as tuition income and federal grants and contracts - the FY2005 budget totals $7.95 billion, an increase of $159.1 million, or 2 percent.

"These budget recommendations emphasize high priority state needs and the core mission activities of our colleges and universities, while recognizing that the state continues to confront an extraordinarily severe fiscal climate," James L. Kaplan, Chairman of the Board, said. "Our colleges and universities are striving to curtail costs and to shield students and academic programs from adverse effects of the budget difficulties."

Budget priorities continue to center on access and affordability, with $338.7 million for the state's Monetary Award Program (MAP), which assists needy students in opening the door of college opportunity. That figure is unchanged from fiscal 2004.

The budget recommends:

  • $1.3 billion in general funds for public universities, down $41,500 from FY04. When all sources of funds are counted, public universities would see a $231.1 million, 4.9 percent, increase. The budget recommendations assume that universities will reallocate $27 million from administrative costs to core mission activities, part of a three-year commitment to trim such costs by 25 percent, or $100.6 million.
  • $283.4 million in general funds for community colleges, a decrease of $8 million, or 2.8 percent. All funds recommendations - which include state appropriations as well as tuition and fee income and property tax revenue - total $1.89 billion, an increase of $47 million, or 2.6 percent. Both adult education programs and career and technical education grants would be funded at FY04 levels - $34.2 million for adult ed, $11 million for postsecondary career programs. Federal funds for adult education are expected to rise by 17 percent, to $29.9 million.
  • $389 million for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, a decline of $9.4 million, or 2.4 percent. Although MAP funding would remain level, proposed changes to the student aid formula will redirect resources to the lowest income students and provide eligibility for MAP awards for up to 135 credit hours of study.
  • Grants for access and diversity programs will increase by $967,000, or 10.6 percent, to $10 million in FY05. This increase reflects operating costs related to new facilities at the University Center of Lake County. Grants in the workforce and economic development area will drop by $23.5 million below FY04 levels. But the budget recommendations would fund two initiatives of Governor Blagojevich's Opportunity Returns regional economic development plan - $476,000 for a baccalaureate degree completion program in business in Rockford through Northern Illinois University and Rock Valley College, and $300,000 for new faculty to meet growing demand at Western Illinois University's Quad Cities campus.

"This budget is the product of difficult decisions," Daniel J. LaVista, Executive Director of the IBHE, said. "But we believe it will sustain opportunities for quality academic programs. Our colleges and universities have proved determined and resourceful in attempting to meet the needs of students in the face of these trying fiscal times."
Board members also will act on a policy for compliance with the state's new ethics law, which applies to the Board, its staff, and public universities. Among the requirements are provisions for documentation of time worked, for travel reimbursement, and for compensation and benefits.

The Board will hear a report on progress at the University Center of Lake County (UCLC) from G. Gary Grace, Executive Director and Dean. The General Assembly and Governor created the University Center in 1998 to meet the increasing educational needs of Lake County, one of the fastest growing counties in the state. The University Center will complete a new building to house programs from its 17 partner colleges and universities in the spring 2005 on the campus of the College of Lake County. A new UCLC home in Waukegan will open in the spring of this year.

The Board will get an update on a study of possible revisions to The Illinois Commitment, the higher education strategic plan adopted five years ago. The Board directed the study to determine whether any of the six goals of the plan - relating to economic growth, K-12 and higher ed partnerships, affordability, access and diversity, program quality, and accountability - need retooling and whether new or emerging challenges require consideration of new goals.

Board members also will hear a report on the $4.3 million federal-state Teacher Quality Enhancement grant, which is designed to improve curriculum, training, and credentials for teachers in the middle grades.


Don Sevener



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