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Commission on Equitable
Public University Funding



Welcome to the Commission on
Equitable Public University Funding

This Commission was created by PA 102-0570 to recommend at a minimum “specific data-driven criteria and approaches to the General Assembly to adequately, equitably, and stably fund public universities in this State and to evaluate existing funding methods.”

Its work is aligned with the state’s new higher education strategic plan, A Thriving Illinois: Higher Education Paths to Equity, Sustainability, and Growth, which outlines the need to invest in higher education in a way that is equitable, stable and sufficient, creating a set of core principles that will be the foundation of any new funding approach.

The Commission must provide a report of its findings to the General Assembly no later than July 1, 2023. The report must include recommendations for an equity-centered funding model to distribute state resources to public universities. In addition to fulfilling the core principles for the new funding approach laid out in A Thriving Illinois, the Commission’s recommendations must also address specific criteria.


Below you will find additional information about the Commission.


Membership

  • Co-Chairs


  • Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford
  • Representative Carol Ammons

  • John Atkinson, Chair IBHE

  • Martin Torres,
    Deputy Governor for Education


  • Legislative Members


  • Senator Scott Bennett

  • Senator Dale Fowler

  • Senator Chapin Rose

  • Representative Katie Stuart

  • Representative Dan Brady

  • Representative Mike Marron


  • Sheila Caldwell,
    Vice President Anti-Racism, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, SIU

  • Andreas Cangellaris, Provost, UIUC

  • Lisa Castillo-Richmond, Executive Director, Partnership for College Completion

  • Cherita Ellens, President and CEO,
    Women Employed

  • Lisa Freeman, President, NIU

  • Gloria Gibson, President, NEIU

  • David Glassman, President, EIU

  • Cheryl Green, President, GSU

  • Terri Goss Kinzy, President, ISU

  • Diane Hayes, Professor SIU-E

  • Guiyou Huang, President, WIU

  • Brandon Kyle, Student, GSU

  • Dan Mahony, President, SIU

  • Ralph Martire, Executive Director, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability

  • Dennis Papini, UIS

  • Javier Reyes, Provost, UIC

  • Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott, President, CSU

  • Robin Steans, President, Advance Illinois

  • Respicio Vasquez, General Counsel, Elgin Community College

  • Simón Weffer, Associate Professor NIU

  • Wendi Wills El-Amin, MD, Associate Dean, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, SIU School of Medicine

  • Jack Wuest, Executive Director, Alternative Schools Network

  • Eric Zarnikow, Executive Director, Illinois Student Assistance Commission

An equitable, sufficient, and stable funding system would:

  • Provide equitable funding so that students can receive the best educational experience and succeed at whichever institution they attend. Illinois needs a funding system for higher education that supports equitable access, progression, and timely completion and accounts for the robust student support services (counseling, advising, wellness, bridge, mental health and child care supports, to name a few) that help students get to and through completion. Students should have equitable access to institutions, and institutions should have resources necessary to provide students the supports that enable them to succeed. Inequitable resources available to community colleges resulting from over-reliance on property taxes must also be recognized and addressed.

  • Support a thriving postsecondary system that enriches the state and its residents. Illinois depends on higher education to preserve, expand, and transmit knowledge, offer solutions to society’s challenges, serve as a civic partner, produce well-educated residents, and enrich life. Research at our institutions expands our understanding of the social and physical world, enhances the health and wellbeing of our residents, and drives innovation and economic development in our communities. Educating students in the humanities and liberal arts supports the whole student and ensures that the leaders of the future better understand the human condition. Institutions are vibrant anchors of communities. In short, the postsecondary system enables students to better build knowledge, create wealth, and be civically engaged. Illinois’ higher education funding system should support these values and goals.

  • Fund institutions sufficiently to achieve student, institutional, and state goals. Illinois must provide sufficient (i.e., adequate or full) funding necessary to achieve the state goals set out in the higher education strategic plan, for each institution to fulfill its mission, and to support students in achieving their goals. For the higher education system to deliver on these expectations, we must ensure that institutions are funded to do so.

  • Ensure affordability for all students. The funding system should ensure that students can start and complete college and access a career of their choice without excessive student debt. This means tuition must be affordable. To do so the funding system must recognize the interrelationship among federal student aid, state funding for public universities and community colleges, state need-based (MAP grants) and other student aid, tuition, local property taxes, and capital appropriations. Our funding system should ensure that college is affordable for the most vulnerable students in the state.

  • Recognize institutional uniqueness. A value of the state’s higher education system is its diversity of colleges and universities, each with different missions, yet all working in concert to serve the state. This calls for a funding system that recognizes these different missions and accounts for variation in institutional portfolios that serve the state (e.g., returning adult students, first-generation students, graduate and professional training, health care provision, research, community engagement, etc.).

  • Provide predictability, stability, and limited volatility. Students and families need predictability to plan for college. Institutions need predictability and stability to build and maintain programs and services that effectively support students. Funding should not dramatically fluctuate from year to year and the funding pattern should provide plenty of time for short- and long-range planning.

  • Include a “hold-harmless” provision. In an environment where public institutions are insufficiently funded, the funding system should build toward sufficient funding without reducing current state appropriations to any institution.

  • Support accountability. A Thriving Illinois includes a call for an accountability plan, with a set of measures to ensure that the state is making progress toward the goals of closing equity gaps, increasing attainment to meet the state’s talent needs, and improving access and affordability. The funding system should support accountability.

  • Support a collaborative higher education system. Students are well served by having access to this rich higher education ecosystem that provides multiple ways to enter, transfer, and successfully exit the system throughout their career (and life). The funding system should reinforce the interconnectedness of the higher education system and support student success within and across institutions, especially as new, innovative networks, collaborations, partnerships, and consortia are developed.
  • Encourage partnerships outside higher education. Partnerships are vital to a strong higher education ecosystem. The higher education system should seek to build partnerships, such as with businesses, non-profits, the philanthropic community, the federal government, and regional, national, and international collaborations that have a vested interest in a flourishing higher education system in Illinois. The goal is to reinforce support for this crucial public good in the state.

  • Articulate rationale for public support. A transparent funding system should point the system toward meeting individual, institutional, and state goals. A funding system that fulfills the principles outlined above makes the case for public support.

The recommendations must be equity-centered and consider


  • Specific data-driven criteria and approaches to adequately, equitably, and stably fund public universities in this State and to evaluate existing funding methods

  • Specific criteria and funding approaches to establish an equity-based funding model for allocation of State funds to public universities

  • Remediating inequities that have led to disparities in access, affordability and completion for underrepresented students

  • Providing incentives to enroll underrepresented students

  • Allowing ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement in funding models

  • Guidelines for how funding is distributed in times of economic hardship

  • Funding for institutions that serve underrepresented students, including graduate and professional students

  • Supporting individual missions, including research and health care

  • Fostering economic activity and innovation by universities’ activities

  • Considering the percentage of institutional aid

  • Considering the number of undergraduates engaged in research

  • Supporting institutional efforts to recruit and retain world-class faculty

  • Holding all universities harmless to their current funding level

  • Considering the long-term implications and outcomes of funding system

Ed. Trust's Re-Imagining Outcomes-Based Funding (PDF), synthesizes the research around funding approaches to outline how states can work toward equity; provides a set of essential recommendations for more intentional funding model design and implementation.

Lumina's Illinois Postsecondary Investments (PDF) brief provides helpful context regarding Higher Ed. funding trends in Illinois.

The Century Foundation Report, provides some history of educational adequacy, exploring the relationship between adequacy and the economic self-sufficiency of students.


February, 2022

April, 2022

June, 2022

September, 2022

December, 2022

February, 2023

April, 2023

June, 2023