Senate panel backs EIU tuition-discount program

SPRINGFIELD — An Eastern Illinois University program aimed at attracting more students from lower-middle- and middle-income families was approved for an extension Wednesday by an Illinois Senate committee.

The Panther Promise program, which provides tuition discounts of up to $2,500 to more than 400 students at the Charleston-based university, would get an extension to the 2022-2023 academic year under legislation sponsored by Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.

A $2,500 discount covers about one-fifth of a student’s approximately $11,200 for tuition and fees, he said.

Panther Promise is available to students from households with an annual income ranging from $33,000 to $71,000, or 151 percent to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

“It’s targeted at those families that make too much to qualify for MAP grants and other aid but who have a real need for assistance because of other circumstances,” said Righter, who called the program “a fabulous success” because it has brought in additional tuition revenue.

The program is in its fourth year and has helped EIU become more cost-competitive and stem further enrollment losses at the university, said Katie Anselment, the university’s director of constituent relations.

“It is going very well,” she told members of the Senate Higher Education Committee, which approved the legislation (SB 930) unanimously.

Senators asked how else they could help EIU, which has lost enrollment in recent years, like many other Illinois public universities.

“The budget would be the best thing to do,” said Anselment. “We need a budget so that we can start planning our future year to year.”

The committee also approved SB 83, which requires any private university in Illinois with a student who receives a state-provided MAP grant to file a report annually with the state Department of Central Management Services. The two-page report would require a name of the university’s contact for its supplier diversity program and its goals for supplier diversity.

Also Wednesday the Senate Government Reform Committee approved a bill (SB 685) that would allow counties to award pay increases to state’s attorneys and public defenders beyond the sums allowed by the Compensation Review Act.

The county government would have to bear the full cost of the pay raise.

Sponsor Sen. Michael Connelly, R-Naperville, said that state’s attorneys and public defenders haven’t received a pay raise since 2008.

State’s attorney pay rates vary by county size, but in Champaign County the prosecutor is paid about $167,000 annually.

Senate panel backs EIU tuition-discount program

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