UI president aims to keep in-state students

Update: 3:45 pm, 3/16/17, Thursday 

ILLINOIS -- Lawmakers rallied around UI President Kim Killeen Thursday to show support for keeping more students in-state for college. Nearly half of Illinois' high school students pack their bags to head out of state.

The university is on its way to getting help keeping them here.

The UI wants to provide $170 million in financial aid funding to students seeking higher education. They hope this will help them stay competitive with out-of-state universities.

"Only about five people in my graduating class stayed here."

Like never before, high school students are leaving Illinois for higher education.

"This is the first time in our state's history where we have guidance counselors encouraging students to go out of state."

In 2015, 45% of high school students went out-of-state for college; a drastic jump from the 29% which left in 2009.

"It's kind of sad knowing that we got a great university here and so many people are opting to leave just because they're unsure of the condition the state's going to be in when they graduate."

The state's budget crisis is why lawmakers and UI leaders ant more funding to keep students from fleeing.

"We want to look at improving a world class education for as many qualified and talented Illinois' native students as we can."

Killeen was at the Capitol Thursday trying to get support for his $170 million funding plan. It would help students who can't afford college on their own over the next five years.

"We have a lot of problems in this state, but higher education could present the answer to those problems."

Senator Scott Bennett (D) says the state's support is key.

"The best resources our state has is our people and, if the whole generation, or a lot of the generations of the best minds go out-of-state, they may never come back."

The new funds would be accessible through scholarships and grants and would be separate from MAP Grant funds.  

President Trump released his budget plan Thursday. It slashes financial aid assistance for low-income students.

It also eliminates the Department of Education's federal supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program saving $732 million. The program gives between $1,000 - $4,000 in grants to students. 

Original: 6:40 pm, 3/15/17, Wednesday

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- The university president says they're going to keep pushing for money for higher education. President Tim Killeen says they're committed to helping in-state students pay for their education, but lawmakers still need to do their part.

They're pledging millions of dollars to keep students in Illinois. University leaders already put aside money for scholarships and things like that, but now they're saying they specifically want to set some aside for in-state students.

Killeen announced this plan at the Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday morning. The university would give $170 million a year in financial aid for the next five years. That's specifically for high school students who are already in Illinois, but lawmakers in Springfield still need to support higher education dollars to make it work.

"We want to lay out what we can do for the taxpayers and the families of Illinois," said Killeen.

They're calling it the Invest In Illinoisans program, or Triple I, for short. It's going to be added to a piece of legislation already working its way through the Capitol. That plan, called IPAC, also gives benchmarks for performance goals for the University of Illinois.

If that plan is approved, Illinois' undergraduates would get hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid. It would be $850 million total for five years. The $170 million for in-state students would account for about 85% of money given out. They also plan to grow the financial aid program with philanthropy.

The board also approved mid-year raises for faculty, academic staff and some union members. Those were about 2% raises and they were merit-based.

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