Lawmakers approve partial funding for university

Dollar signs with $100 bill illustration on the frontIllinois legislators on Friday approved a bipartisan plan to provide $600 million in stop-gap funding for state public universities and community colleges.

The plan provides some relief after a 10-month budget stalemate, but it’s not enough, University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen said.

“While we are grateful that partial funding will be restored, we see the agreement as only a beginning, not the end,” Killeen wrote in an email Friday to the campus community. “It is imperative that the public universities in Illinois receive responsible, sustainable levels of financial support from the state.”

The measure provides $180 million to the university, compared to the $647 million appropriated for fiscal year 2015. The additional funds will help the university operate throughout the remainder of fiscal year 2016, which ends June 30, he said.

Without additional funding, the university “may be forced to make additional drastic reductions in faculty, staff, academic offerings, student programs, economic development initiatives and public service,” he said.

The measure provides $170 million for the state’s Monetary Award Program, which provides financial aid to low-income undergraduates. However, that amount is only about 45 percent of the fiscal year 2015 appropriation and “short of the needs to serve deserving students across the state,” he said.

University administrators will continue to work closely with lawmakers to advocate for more funding, he said. Alumni will also gather in Springfield to push for funding during the U of I Day at the Capitol on May 18.

“We will continue to advocate strongly for adequate funding to support our students and our campuses,” Killeen said.

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