Restored MAP funding gives local colleges a boost

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GALESBURG — Local colleges are collecting their MAP grant funding for the 2016-2017 school year via the new state budget, allowing them to funnel their resources elsewhere. 

In total, Knox College has received a little more than $1.5 million in MAP funding to cover 334 students. Carl Sandburg College received $580,000 for 483 students, and the school expects to collect more to cover another 55 students, for a total of slightly over $600,000 in MAP funding. 

Though the funds could have come earlier considering the schools are now planning for the next school year, it’s better late than never for MAP recipients. Lisa Hanson, director of financial aid for Carl Sandburg, said many of Sandburg’s MAP students borrowed money from family or friends or assumed excessive debt to make up for the delayed funding, which they’ll now be able to pay back. 

“I have two students who work in our office and one will be going to ISU next year, and it was a real help for her because it’ll allow her to make a deposit for housing,” Hanson said. “My other student worker, she’ll be getting MAP funds, and she’s had to scramble for transportation. This’ll allow her to put money back into her car.”

The funding will relieve the burden on administrations as well. Knox would have used money from its endowment to cover funding for MAP students had the state not passed a budget. Now the administration does not need to dip into that resource and the endowment can continue to grow for other purposes, said Karrie Heartlein, director of government and community affairs for Knox. 

Monmouth College had also planned to cover funding for its MAP students if needed. The college just received $1.7 million in MAP funding on Thursday and hopes to collect the remaining funds soon, for a total of $2.2 million to cover 540 students. 

The college can now look at all the funding requests it received from various departments and address ones that had been put on hold during the budget crisis. Those could range from new equipment for labs, more resources for the library or even new study abroad programs, said Duane Bonifer, executive director of communications and marketing for the college. 

“People would say at meetings, ‘that’s something to talk about when the state of Illinois gets its act together,’” Bonifer said. “Campus-wide, everyone was sort of ‘in’; you didn’t have one group of people or one department saying, ‘we’ve had enough, we need to have our needs fulfilled right now.’ I think it’s just a great testament to the community and the family atmosphere of this place. Everyone pulled together and I think everyone did a real nice job.”

While Sandburg would not have been able to cover MAP grant funds, it planned its 2017-2018 budget without expecting to receive any state funds. Now that the funds have come in, Hanson expected the school would put state money back into its accounts to replenish what the college used to help cover expenses during the budget crisis.

The three schools have also been tracking the activity of the state government and preparing for the future, in the event that the legislative history of the past two years repeats itself. Hanson said Sandburg has been looking “very closely” at its expenses and making sure the college can cover them with minimal assistance from the state.

Heartlein did not know how deep the Knox administration’s conversations had been regarding independence from state funding, but she thought it was concerning that the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Rauner could not agree on a budget year after year. 

“You get into dangerous waters when you have to start building contingency plans because the state of Illinois is not honoring its promises,” Heartlein said. “I think it’s something we all have to think about very seriously.”

Monmouth is in the process of restructuring its budget model and income strategy so it can be fiscally independent from all types of government funds. The college hopes to grow its endowment so that one day, state and federal money will be “extras” and not financing students’ education, Bonifer said. The plan seems off to a positive start, as the college received a $20 million endowment commitment from an anonymous donor in April. 

Bonifer said many colleges across the nation have been looking at how they can become financially solvent without much government aid, but the situation seemed to amplify in Illinois with the state budget crisis. 

“We think the horizon might look good now, but the dark clouds are going to reappear and we’re going to have more problems in the future,” Bonifer said. “We want to control our destiny and our future, and the way to do that is to be as fiscally independent as possible. If anything, I think the last couple of years have been a wake-up call on that.”

 

Rebecca Susmarski: (309) 343-7181, ext. 261; rsusmarski@register-mail.com; @RSusmarski

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July 23, 2017 at 08:01AM

Restored MAP funding gives local colleges a boost

UI trustee nominee often gives to GOP candidates

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New UI trustee King.jpg

Photo by: Della Perrone/For The News-Gazette

Dr. Stuart King, a Christie Clinic physician and Champaign resident with three degrees from the University of Illinois, was named Friday, July 21, 2017, to fill one of two vacancies on the UI Board of Trustees.

CHAMPAIGN — Dr. Stuart King, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s latest nominee to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, is a generous donor to mostly Republican candidates, including the governor.

Campaign disclosure records show that King has donated $6,000 to the Citizens for Rauner campaign account, the most recent being a $1,000 contribution in March.

King has given more than $22,000 to Illinois-based campaign accounts for Republicans, including Sens. Chapin Rose of Mahomet, Bill Brady and Jason Barickman of Bloomington; former county board member Jeff Kibler; state Rep.Tim Butler, R-Springfield; past Illinois House candidate Kristin Williamson; Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen when she was running for the House in 2011; Champaign County Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman; Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten; and local Republican Party groups.

King, a Christie Clinic physician, also gave $500 to Don Gerard, the one-time mayor of Champaign, a nonpartisan position. But Gerard is a Democrat.

Nationally, King has given to U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville; former U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana; the Republican National Committee; the Republican Party of Illinois; presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney; and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

It is not unusual for governors to appoint UI trustees who have donated to their campaigns.

Another Rauner appointee, Ramon Cepeda of Darien, gave $250 to the governor’s campaign.

Christopher Kennedy, now a Democratic candidate for governor, but a 2009 appointee of former Gov. Pat Quinn, gave more than $10,000 to Quinn’s campaign.

David Dorris of Bloomington, appointed to the UI board by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, gave $128,500 to Friends of Blagojevich.

Niranjan Shah, another Blagojevich appointee, gave a $240 in-kind contribution to the Blagojevich campaign.

Robert Vickrey of Peru, appointed to the UI board by former Gov. George Ryan, gave the Ryan campaign $250. Kenneth Schmidt, another Ryan appointee, gave Citizens for George Ryan $2,000.

Marjorie Sodemann, a longtime Ryan employee and political ally, gave more than $20,000 to various Ryan campaigns, all of it before she was appointed to the UI board in 2001.

Dave Downey of Champaign, who was appointed to the UI board in 1991 by former Gov. Jim Edgar, gave a $1,000 contribution to the Edgar campaign in 1994.

UI trustee nominee often gives to GOP candidates

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds plans in wake of change

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A change in the administrator running Illinois’ Bright Start 529 college savings plans has left families unable to access their college savings quickly at a time when some need the funds to cover fall tuition bills.

Typically, participants can go online and have money routed automatically from their 529 college savings accounts to colleges awaiting tuition payments. But on July 17, the state began using a new company to administer the funds, according to a recording on the program’s help line.

Vanessa Kerrigan, of North Barrington, said that for three days her husband tried unsuccessfully online to transfer the couple’s savings to the colleges their two children will be attending soon.

The Kerrigans finally dialed a Bright Start help line and waited on hold for 35 minutes for an agent who was able to transfer the money manually to the colleges.

The Illinois State Treasurer’s office, which is responsible for the 529 plans, did not respond to repeated calls Friday, but a recording on the Bright Start help line said that call volume was heavy after the transfer to the new administrator. The same message assured individuals that their money is secure.

“It seems odd that you’d do this right before the semester begins and when tuitions are due,” Kerrigan said.

In early June, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced that the state would be moving its 529 management contract from Oppenheimer OFI Private Investments to Union Bank & Trust Co., cutting fees and creating more investment choices. Three 529 plans were to be consolidated into two.

Many colleges require tuition payments before allowing students to register for classes or move into dormitories. Kerrigan said she was concerned because her daughter must move into a dormitory early for a college athletic program.

State-run 529 plans allow people to put away money for college and avoid paying taxes on any money withdrawn to pay for college.

gmarksjarvis@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @gailmarksjarvis

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July 21, 2017 at 02:33PM

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds plans in wake of change

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds plans in wake of change

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A change in the administrator running Illinois’ Bright Start 529 college savings plans has left families unable to access their college savings quickly at a time when some need the funds to cover fall tuition bills.

Typically, participants can go online and have money routed automatically from their 529 college savings accounts to colleges awaiting tuition payments. But on July 17, the state began using a new company to administer the funds, according to a recording on the program’s help line.

Vanessa Kerrigan, of North Barrington, said that for three days her husband tried unsuccessfully online to transfer the couple’s savings to the colleges their two children will be attending soon.

The Kerrigans finally dialed a Bright Start help line and waited on hold for 35 minutes for an agent who was able to transfer the money manually to the colleges.

The Illinois State Treasurer’s office, which is responsible for the 529 plans, did not respond to repeated calls Friday, but a recording on the Bright Start help line said that call volume was heavy after the transfer to the new administrator. The same message assured individuals that their money is secure.

“It seems odd that you’d do this right before the semester begins and when tuitions are due,” Kerrigan said.

In early June, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced that the state would be moving its 529 management contract from Oppenheimer OFI Private Investments to Union Bank & Trust Co., cutting fees and creating more investment choices. Three 529 plans were to be consolidated into two.

Many colleges require tuition payments before allowing students to register for classes or move into dormitories. Kerrigan said she was concerned because her daughter must move into a dormitory early for a college athletic program.

State-run 529 plans allow people to put away money for college and avoid paying taxes on any money withdrawn to pay for college.

gmarksjarvis@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @gailmarksjarvis

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July 21, 2017 at 02:33PM

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds plans in wake of change

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds plans in wake of change

http://ift.tt/2twVhxD

A change in the administrator running Illinois’ Bright Start 529 college savings plans has left families unable to access their college savings quickly at a time when some need the funds to cover fall tuition bills.

Typically, participants can go online and have money routed automatically from their 529 college savings accounts to colleges awaiting tuition payments. But on July 17, the state began using a new company to administer the funds, according to a recording on the program’s help line.

Vanessa Kerrigan, of North Barrington, said that for three days her husband tried unsuccessfully online to transfer the couple’s savings to the colleges their two children will be attending soon.

The Kerrigans finally dialed a Bright Start help line and waited on hold for 35 minutes for an agent who was able to transfer the money manually to the colleges.

The Illinois State Treasurer’s office, which is responsible for the 529 plans, did not respond to repeated calls Friday, but a recording on the Bright Start help line said that call volume was heavy after the transfer to the new administrator. The same message assured individuals that their money is secure.

“It seems odd that you’d do this right before the semester begins and when tuitions are due,” Kerrigan said.

In early June, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced that the state would be moving its 529 management contract from Oppenheimer OFI Private Investments to Union Bank & Trust Co., cutting fees and creating more investment choices. Three 529 plans were to be consolidated into two.

Many colleges require tuition payments before allowing students to register for classes or move into dormitories. Kerrigan said she was concerned because her daughter must move into a dormitory early for a college athletic program.

State-run 529 plans allow people to put away money for college and avoid paying taxes on any money withdrawn to pay for college.

gmarksjarvis@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @gailmarksjarvis

01-All No Sub,02-Pol,03-HL 20,04-Pens 2,12-Coll,HE Blog

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July 21, 2017 at 02:33PM

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds plans in wake of change

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds plans in wake of change

http://ift.tt/2twVhxD

A change in the administrator running Illinois’ Bright Start 529 college savings plans has left families unable to access their college savings quickly at a time when some need the funds to cover fall tuition bills.

Typically, participants can go online and have money routed automatically from their 529 college savings accounts to colleges awaiting tuition payments. But on July 17, the state began using a new company to administer the funds, according to a recording on the program’s help line.

Vanessa Kerrigan, of North Barrington, said that for three days her husband tried unsuccessfully online to transfer the couple’s savings to the colleges their two children will be attending soon.

The Kerrigans finally dialed a Bright Start help line and waited on hold for 35 minutes for an agent who was able to transfer the money manually to the colleges.

The Illinois State Treasurer’s office, which is responsible for the 529 plans, did not respond to repeated calls Friday, but a recording on the Bright Start help line said that call volume was heavy after the transfer to the new administrator. The same message assured individuals that their money is secure.

“It seems odd that you’d do this right before the semester begins and when tuitions are due,” Kerrigan said.

In early June, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced that the state would be moving its 529 management contract from Oppenheimer OFI Private Investments to Union Bank & Trust Co., cutting fees and creating more investment choices. Three 529 plans were to be consolidated into two.

Many colleges require tuition payments before allowing students to register for classes or move into dormitories. Kerrigan said she was concerned because her daughter must move into a dormitory early for a college athletic program.

State-run 529 plans allow people to put away money for college and avoid paying taxes on any money withdrawn to pay for college.

gmarksjarvis@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @gailmarksjarvis

01-All No Sub,02-Pol,03-HL 20,04-Pens 2,12-Coll,HE Blog

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July 21, 2017 at 02:33PM

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds plans in wake of change

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds plans in wake of change

http://ift.tt/2twVhxD

A change in the administrator running Illinois’ Bright Start 529 college savings plans has left families unable to access their college savings quickly at a time when some need the funds to cover fall tuition bills.

Typically, participants can go online and have money routed automatically from their 529 college savings accounts to colleges awaiting tuition payments. But on July 17, the state began using a new company to administer the funds, according to a recording on the program’s help line.

Vanessa Kerrigan, of North Barrington, said that for three days her husband tried unsuccessfully online to transfer the couple’s savings to the colleges their two children will be attending soon.

The Kerrigans finally dialed a Bright Start help line and waited on hold for 35 minutes for an agent who was able to transfer the money manually to the colleges.

The Illinois State Treasurer’s office, which is responsible for the 529 plans, did not respond to repeated calls Friday, but a recording on the Bright Start help line said that call volume was heavy after the transfer to the new administrator. The same message assured individuals that their money is secure.

“It seems odd that you’d do this right before the semester begins and when tuitions are due,” Kerrigan said.

In early June, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs announced that the state would be moving its 529 management contract from Oppenheimer OFI Private Investments to Union Bank & Trust Co., cutting fees and creating more investment choices. Three 529 plans were to be consolidated into two.

Many colleges require tuition payments before allowing students to register for classes or move into dormitories. Kerrigan said she was concerned because her daughter must move into a dormitory early for a college athletic program.

State-run 529 plans allow people to put away money for college and avoid paying taxes on any money withdrawn to pay for college.

gmarksjarvis@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @gailmarksjarvis

01-All No Sub,02-Pol,03-HL 20,04-Pens 2,12-Coll,HE Blog

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July 21, 2017 at 02:33PM

Illinois families struggle to access 529 college savings funds plans in wake of change