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April 22, 2010

Illinois College Students Urge Action to Bolster Higher Ed Budget

UNITED to Save Education campaign brings hundreds from campuses across the state to press legislators on investment in higher education

SPRINGFIELD – Student leaders from colleges and universities across the state gathered today under the Capitol dome to convince legislators that increased funding for higher education and for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) to assist low-income college students are sound investments.

Hundreds of students from community colleges, public universities, and independent colleges and universities traveled to Springfield for the second day of a one-two punch of advocacy for raising resources for higher education and other state services. Led largely by labor unions, thousands converged on Springfield Wednesday to lobby lawmakers for a “responsible budget.”

“I commend these motivated students for taking precious time and energy from their school work to come to Springfield and tell their state legislators how important their education is to them,” stated Judy Erwin, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. “As a former state legislator, I know first-hand that meeting and learning from students who live in a legislator’s district is very helpful in understanding the impact of legislative actions taken in Springfield.”

Last October students rallied on behalf of saving the MAP program for the spring semester and were successful in getting the funding restored. With that as a backdrop, students once again roamed the Capitol to discuss with  their legislators the negative impact the state budget crisis is having on their college experiences. Among those impacts was the recent announcement that the Illinois Student Assistance Commission has run out of money to fund MAP grants next year, leaving an estimated 220,000 students eligible for MAP grants without state financial assistance.

“As a student involved in discussions about our state’s dire financial situation with other students all around the state, I am committed to speaking out for all college students, whether they are attending community college, a public university, or a private institution of higher learning,” said Dimitra Georgouses, a Roosevelt University student who currently chairs the IBHE Student Advisory Committee. “We have a common goal: we want to invest in our state’s future by becoming successful graduates ready to strengthen Illinois’ standing in the global economy. We are simply asking our legislators to be part of the solution so that more Illinoisans have the opportunity to pursue a quality college degree or credential from an Illinois institution of higher learning.”

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