UPDATED: Killeen on tap for second $100,000 performance bonus

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URBANA — University of Illinois President Tim Killeen is slated for a second performance bonus of $100,000 for meeting goals outlined by UI trustees.

Killeen earns $600,000 annually, with the possibility of up to $100,000 in annual performance incentives based on predetermined goals set by the board. He received the full $100,000 in September 2016 after his first year in office.

The agenda for Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago includes a “pay-for-performance” compensation item authorizing $100,000 for Killeen this year, to be paid within 90 days.

In past years trustees haven’t released the amount until after meeting in closed session the day of the board meeting.

The board decided several years ago to tie a portion of the president’s total pay to performance based on mutually agreed-upon goals. Former UI President Robert Easter received three, ranging from $90,000 to $180,000.

Killeen’s initial contract also included a $225,000 retention bonus if he remained president for five years, but that provision was dropped at Killeen’s request in 2015 following the public flap over former Chancellor Phyllis’ Wise potential $400,000 retention bonus. Killeen said that he didn’t need a bonus to stay at Illinois and that retention incentives reward longevity, not performance.

Killeen completed his second full year as president in May.

In the past year he navigated an ongoing state budget crisis that cost the university hundreds of millions of dollars, hired Robert Jones as chancellor of the Urbana campus, reorganized and filled two vice presidents’ positions, forged new partnerships in Chicago and abroad, and helped launch a campaign to raise $3.1 billion for the UI’s three campuses.

He also saw two now-former UI employees implicated in a state patronage scheme dating back to their days as aides to former Gov. Pat Quinn.

In a written evaluation released Friday, trustees gave Killeen high marks for hiring “excellent leaders” and for being a “relentless advocate” for the UI system at the state and national levels.

They cited his collaborative efforts with other Illinois universities and community colleges; his strong advocacy for state and federal funding; and his commitment to keep tuition flat while increasing enrollment for Illinois undergraduates.

Killeen’s plan for a five-year funding commitment from the state tied to specific performance benchmarks by the UI — dubbed IPAC, or the “Investment, Performance and Accountability Commitment” — was judged to be “creative and innovative” and of benefit to higher education throughout the state.

Trustees also said Killeen made “admirable progress” on the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students and faculty and increased opportunity for minority vendors. But they cautioned that progress is needed in terms of campus climate and diversity, a “top priority.”

Killeen also earned praise for outreach efforts, including a new CEO group to help promote the UI’s “brand” and mutually beneficial projects, and a new UI Health Advisory Board.

Thursday’s agenda also includes $75,000 in pay-for-performance compensation for UI Chicago Chancellor Michael Amiridis, along with a provision to incorporate the pay into his base salary. He would thereafter not be eligible for further performance bonuses.

Amiridis received a $75,000 performance bonus last year, and his current salary is $400,000 annually.

UI officials say “pay-for-performance” is a common practice in the corporate world and increasingly with university leaders. Trustees have said the extra pay is not a bonus but is earned.

UI employees received raises averaging 1 percent for this academic year, following a 2 percent mid-year raise last winter, but those did not apply to Killeen.

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UPDATED: Killeen on tap for second $100,000 performance bonus

Merge colleges, update majors to stop students from fleeing Illinois

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Southern Illinois University Carbondale saw its freshman enrollment drop to half of what it was three years ago. That also means less tuition money, atop the state shirking its funding promises.

The new chancellor sees the crisis. Chancellor Carlo Montemagno blames administrative bloat, ossification and red tape for SIUC’s inability to react to the fact that too many prospective students find the university’s offerings to be irrelevant.

“The biggest limitation in our ability to change has been bureaucratic. Artificial boundaries created by the way we count effort and resources,” he said. “In numerous conversations with faculty members, I’ve heard about great ideas to deliver new programs that were stymied by bureaucratic obstruction.”

He wants new programs relevant to the working world that students will enter. He wants to consolidate and eliminate where needed.

But he needs to tame the administration if SIUC is to avoid the abyss.

Across Illinois, college administration grew 26 percent from 2005 to 2015. Instructors and professors grew 2 percent. Enrollment fell 3 percent.

Competition for students is increasing, too, at the same time other states gained Illinois students who were put off by the financial disarray and college grant uncertainty. The University of Illinois is pushing for a 15 percent enrollment increase by freezing tuition and rolling out new programs.

There might be legislative relief in the form of Senate Bill 2234, introduced recently by Assistant Republican Leader Sen. Chapin Rose. U of I is in his backyard.

It seeks reoganization of the state’s higher education system, review of academic programs and integration of community colleges, as well as making the college application process easier online for high school students.

While a Republican proposal that could lead to less government is unlikely to make it out of committee, Illinois’ financial maelstrom requires smart choices.

On the plus side, ignore Carbondale’s plight and maybe Edwardsville will finally emerge as the main campus in the SIU system.

Merge colleges, update majors to stop students from fleeing Illinois

Proposed Illinois university department ranking system raises eyebrows

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A plan by Republican state lawmakers to revamp the Illinois higher education system has received polite responses from educators, but elements of the newly introduced legislation already are getting push-back.

“The goal here is first and foremost to get us back to a space where higher education is affordable and accessible,” state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, told Illinois News Network. “This is the beginning of a conversation, not a final product.”

Rose authored the higher education overhaul with Sen. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington.

The legislation would create a uniform admission application for all the universities, guarantee access to an Illinois public university for any high school student who maintains a “B” average, create a ranking system showing which university departments are the most successful and put in place economic-efficiency reviews for the campuses.

Concerns about the state’s higher education system were evident even before the state’s two-year budget stalemate cut funding to the system, according to a news release from the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus. Enrollment dropped by 50,000 students between the years 1991 and 2014, the release said.

During that same time period, universities and colleges expanded their offerings, and some universities switched from being commuter campuses to dormitory systems, Rose said.

“We have 12 campuses trying to be all things to all people,” he said.

But Rose acknowledges the budget stalemate was not helpful for higher education and said his legislation would provide the Illinois Board of Higher Education more teeth to coordinate higher education policies and enforce statewide priorities.

The idea for a common application likely is to gain broad support among higher education officials and the public, he said, noting that university campuses currently have individual application filing fees.

“The part of this that I can see happening fairly quickly is that common application,” Rose said.

That might not be the case for the ranking system for university departments, however.

“That’s the part that causes heartburn for higher education,” he said.

Indeed, John Jackson, a visiting political science professor at the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University, said attempts to rank universities’ success have been contentious and that a vast amount of academic literature has been written about it.

“That one’s a perfectly terrible idea,” Jackson told Illinois News Network. “It’s not at all clear what are the reliable and valid ways to rank departments.”

Rose’s legislation lists an array of criteria that could be used to rank university departments, such as graduation rates, unique faculty qualifications, job placement rates, access to underserved populations and the relative value of a degree based on earnings potential.

The state senator also has criticized priorities and planning within the system of higher education. One project that Rose mentions frequently is an $82.5 million proposal to build a science, technology, engineering and math building at the University of Illinois at Springfield when there’s already a world-class engineering program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the same time, other university campuses have been waiting to upgrade their outdated science buildings, he said.

“This [legislation] gives teeth to the Board of Higher Education to become the traffic cop and forces them to go through some thoughtful analysis” about expanding programs, Rose said.

But Jackson said examples of duplication of resources within the university system are way overhyped. University campuses each need a core of general education offerings to attract students, he said.

“Otherwise, you’re a college or a trade school,” Jackson said.

He also questioned what would happen if a ranking system showed that an English department at one campus was not up to par. Would that university then not have a right to an English department, Jackson asks.

The state Board of Higher Education now is empowered to have a master plan in place and set priorities for higher education on a statewide basis, he said.

“Things are not nearly as out of whack as critics of higher education indicate,” Jackson said.

But state lawmakers have every right to examine such issues and speak to the IBHE about the future direction of higher education in the state, according to Jackson, who said the legislation’s stated goals of providing increased access to higher education and reducing bureaucracy were positive.

“On the face of it, it looks reasonable and fairly harmless in terms of trying to get people to the place where they would be most successful,” he said.

Others in the education field also seem receptive to discussing the ideas presented in the legislation.

“We’re in the process of reviewing their proposal and will work with them during the upcoming legislative session,” Thomas Hardy, spokesman for the University of Illinois System, told Illinois News Network.

Meanwhile, Rose signaled he wants to take a comprehensive look at how administrators are running individual campuses.

“These guys are all trying to build fiefdoms,” he said. “We’ve had 30 years of free-for-all and mission creep … build, build, build.”

Proposed Illinois university department ranking system raises eyebrows

Gov. Bruce Rauner long has argued that one of the state’s best economic bets would be to somehow bridge…

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Gov. Bruce Rauner long has argued that one of the state’s best economic bets would be to somehow bridge the 140-mile gap that separates two of its strongest assets: the University of Illinois main campus in Urbana-Champaign and the city of Chicago. He thinks he’s got it figured out.

Joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen, Rauner plans to announce tomorrow morning a project called the Discovery Partners Institute, which would be built on a 62-acre site along the Chicago River south of Roosevelt Road that is being developed by Related Midwest. Related calls the site “78” in reference to hopes of becoming the city’s 78th neighborhood. The property also has been floated as a possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters, which the city and state jointly are pursuing.

The governor’s office confirmed that it will make an announcement tomorrow related to a “public-private partnership” but declined to elaborate.

The institute would be funded initially by as much as $200 million in private donors lined up by the governor, according to people who’ve heard the pitch. Exactly what programs will be represented is unclear, but it likely would involve both the university’s flagship campus and the University of Illinois at Chicago and both research and instruction activities. In broad strokes, the idea is to get academics and companies to collaborate on “pushing the art of the possible,” said one executive who was pitched on the idea by Rauner. It’s part of a broader innovation corridor envisioned by the governor that has multiple “nodes.”

With the clock running out on Rauner’s first term, the announcement would allow him to show some momentum on the economic-development front (along with hopes of landing Amazon and a Toyota-Mazda assembly plant, which the state also is pursuing). The question will be whether he can deliver.

Before he ran for governor four years ago, Rauner, a longtime private-equity investor, was pitching the idea of linking Chicago’s capital with talent at U of I, which has one of the world’s top engineering and computer-science schools in Urbana. The goal was to give Chicago and the state some of the startup spark that Silicon Valley and Boston have gotten from their nearby universities, Stanford, Harvard and MIT.

In 2011, Rauner sketched out the idea. It required a “commitment of U of I to expand its computer science/engineering program to Chicago in a major way, opening a significant IT campus in the (Illinois Medical District) or elsewhere near downtown, moving faculty and students here on a large scale—with that plan in place, investment $ and additional technology will readily flow,” he wrote in an email to Larry Schook, former vice president for research for the U of I’s three campuses, according to emails to Emanuel’s private email address that were released late last year.

That was Rauner’s vision for UI Labs, which ultimately morphed into a manufacturing-technology center on Goose Island that involved multiple universities in order to land a big federal grant. But Rauner never gave up on the idea of creating more of a presence in Chicago for U of I’s Urbana faculty and students to launch more tech companies and create jobs and wealth.

He hinted at it again in his state of the state address Jan. 25, saying: “Illinois is home to some of the greatest research universities in the world. Working in partnership, we can create a technology and innovation center here in the Midwest that can rival Silicon Valley or North Carolina’s Research Triangle, creating tens of thousands of high-paying jobs.”

There already have been some efforts to bridge the gap. Three years ago, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business began collaborating with U of I’s College of Engineering to encourage students from the two campuses to collaborate on projects and potential startups. U of I’s College of Engineering recently announced a program called City Scholars that would bring 50 students to Chicago next spring for paid internships.

Gov. Bruce Rauner long has argued that one of the state’s best economic bets would be to somehow bridge…

Rose’s Higher Ed Plan Faces Thorny Battle

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Illinois ranks second highest in the nation for one very dubious distinction: Losing high school graduates to out-of-state colleges.

Only New Jersey loses more college students than Illinois, and that’s according to counts taken before Illinois starved its universities during the two-year budget impasse.

But State Sen. Chapin Rose, a Republican from Mahomet, has announced he’s filing a plan that could be the first step in changing that.

It contains three major measures. The piece he believes will be most easily approved would create a single form students could use to apply to all public universities in Illinois.

“This should’ve been done 10 years ago,” Rose says. “There’s simply no reason we can’t have a common application for high school seniors to fill out and apply online and have that application forwarded to all 12 campuses. I think the common app is something that can be accomplished in the next legislative session.

“On the other hand,” he says, “I think the rest of this is going to take some kind of task force.”

That’s because the other two pieces are guaranteed to be controversial. The Senate version won’t be available until lawmakers return to session, but Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) has filed the legislation in the House.

Rose hopes to guarantee that any Illinois student who graduates from high school with decent grades will be admitted to at least one of the state’s public universities. It’s a big concept, with many details to be worked out, but he says he’s patterning this plan on a similar scheme used in Georgia.

“I admit that it’s easier said than done, but if you have a B average, in the state of Illinois, we want you to stay in Illinois. So why aren’t we helping make sure that there’s a space for you at one of our wonderful universities that we already have?” he says. “The Urbana campus says, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t take everybody.’ And I agree! I get that. But across our entire educational infrastructure, we certainly have capacity. So one thought here is that we work with students and their families to find the appropriate in-state placement for them if they have a B average or better.”

His third idea that might be even more controversial: He’s calling it the “Higher Education Strategic Centers of Excellence Plan,” based, he says, on a similar plan used it Missouri. It would task the Illinois Board of Higher Education with gathering data from academic programs at all 12 campuses to determine which ones deserve financial support.

“There’s two prongs to this. First, IBHE, for existing programs, is simply going to do a study to determine where our best programs are. We need to start driving funding to strategically protect our best programs,” Rose says. “The second piece is: For new programs and programmatic expansions, they’re going to have to do some thoughtful analysis to determine whether there’s a market demand in that area for that program, and adding that program won’t end up tanking a program somewhere else. I mean, why are we consistently reinventing the wheel?”

The example he points to is the University of Illinois’ plan to build a new building on the Springfield campus that Rose says seems to simply duplicate the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) offerings of the Urbana campus.

“The U of I put an $82.6 million marker on building a brand new STEM building on the UIS campus. At the same time, they’re telling us that they don’t have enough funds to protect the topflight internationally-known engineering programs at the Urbana campus,” Rose says. “Well, which is it? Are we going to protect the Urbana campus? Or are we going to make an $82.6 million investment and reinvent the wheel?

“By the same token, you have Eastern Illinois University, Western Illinois University and Northern Illinois University that have all been patiently waiting in line to rehab the buildings they have for science where they’ve got really good programs with academic reputations. So I guess my point isn’t necessarily to say who’s right or who’s wrong, but to say who’s in charge of the traffic flow here? And aren’t there other things UIS is good at that might benefit from the use of that money?”

Actually, UIS is seeking $65 million. In their proposal, campus officials said their computer science department had grown by more than 500 percent over the past 10 years to become the largest major (1,300 students) on campus. UIS has added a handful of new STEM majors (including cybersecurity). The proposed STEM building would also house the UIS nursing program, which is a partnership with the U of I Chicago campus. It’s not hard to imagine this kind of battle playing out among many programs on all 12 schools.

What Rose’s plan does not call for is closing campuses — not even the troubled Chicago State University.

“I’m a frequent critic of Chicago State University. But they’ve got a pretty good pharmacy program,” he says. “So to simply walk away from the pharmacy school when there’s a demand for pharmacists, and good jobs with benefits once you graduate, and you’ve got a quality program in place — that’s ridiculous to simply abandon that because there’s something else going on at that school.

“There’s some in the General Assembly that think we should just close campuses and that will solve our problems. Well, first of all, that’s enormously inefficient. Every campus in this state has something they’re really, really good at,” Rose says, “and to simply walk away would abandon those students and their families that are there, but also abandon those communities. And at the end of the day will do nothing to improve the overall state of higher education in the state of Illinois.”

Rose fully anticipates that his legislation could turn into a statewide overhaul similar to the one just approved in k-12 school funding. And like that battle, this one would require time and bipartisan support.

“The higher ed committees have a historic relationship of cooperation and, for lack of a better phrase, collegial goodwill between them, and I don’t think you’ll have quite the sharp edges that [school funding] took on. That’s my hope. I’m deliberately framing this as let’s work together. I don’t have any interest in trying to pretend that I have the capacity or the knowledge base to figure this all out for myself,” Rose says.

“I don’t think that everybody will agree with everything I put in the bill, and that’s fine, but to be fully transparent, we’re just trying to start a conversation. Any input, any constructive criticism is welcome.”

Rose’s Higher Ed Plan Faces Thorny Battle

Many Illinois students leaving state to attend college

http://ift.tt/2xOrC3gTim Landis Business Editor @TimLandisSJR

Illinois has the second-highest rate nationally of college freshmen choosing to leave the state to pursue higher education — a mark it hit even before the state’s two-year budget impasse — and preliminary figures this fall suggest the numbers continue to look grim.

Between 2000 and 2014, when the out-migration hit an all-time high, the number of freshmen leaving Illinois to attend college shot up by about 64 percent, according to a study earlier this year by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Only New Jersey, which also has had state budget woes, exceeded Illinois in loss of students to out-of-state schools.

The trend was even more pronounced among students attending four-year colleges and universities. Of those freshmen, nearly half chose to attend out of state schools in 2015.

That all-time high was hit even before the state’s colleges and universities weathered the effects of a two-year state budget impasse, which left institutions cutting budgets and programs and put financial aid for thousands of students on hold or in limbo.

But as colleges report preliminary enrollment figures this fall, the numbers suggest that the deadlock only accelerated the trend, which has been fueled by a combination of state financial problems, population shifts and aggressive recruitment by competing states.

Enrollment was down this fall at public schools across the state with the exception of a 2 percent increase at the University of Illinois’ campus in Urbana-Champaign and a 5 percent increase at U of I Chicago, based on preliminary estimates from IBHE. Enrollment dropped by double digits at Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Enrollment at the University of Illinois Springfield campus was down 8.7 percent compared with 2016 to 4,956.

Tom Cross, a veteran Republican legislator named in IBHE chairman in 2016, says the impasse “caused a form of paralysis.”

Costs are factor. A recently completed IBHE analysis of basic tuition and fees for 2016-2017 at U of I in Champaign, University of Chicago and Illinois State University in Normal were significantly below costs at Indiana University, Purdue University and University of Missouri, three schools that compete for Illinois students. But the report noted 66 percent of students at the competing schools receive some type of tuition discount, compared with 59 percent at the Illinois schools.

After discounts, according to the IBHE study, in-state undergraduates paid $8,797 on average compared with $19,522 paid by Illinois undergraduates at the out-of-state schools. Those figures, though are averages — and schools in adjoining states have been especially aggressive in recruiting high academic achievers and offering them competitive financial packages.

“I think we almost have to do a public relations campaign to let people know what the truth is,” Cross said. “We have good schools, and we are very competitive.”

Leaving and not coming back

The out-migration issue has potential long-term effects for Illinois. Students who leave Illinois for school are less likely to return to the state for jobs, the IBHE report found. One-third of those who leave for college take out-of-state jobs, according to the study, compared with less than 10 percent of students who graduate from Illinois schools.

Another source of concern is the report’s finding that the highest achieving high-school graduates were most likely to leave Illinois for college.

Much of the recent blame has fallen on the two-year, spending deadlock between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled legislature.

In 2014, nearly 33,700 Illinois students decided to leave the state — compared to only 20,507 who did in 2000. Meanwhile, the number of in-state freshmen at Illinois public colleges kept dropping, from 97,001 in 2000 to a then- all-time low of 82,455 by 2014.

Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio were the top outbound destinations.

At Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, guidance counselors have been seeing an increased interest in students going out of state for college. Though the majority of graduating seniors from SHG still attend in-state schools, interest has definitely shifted to the University of Missouri, St. Louis University, Indiana University and the University of Kentucky, said Leslie Seck, SHG’s director of student and family services.

Part of the shift is coming from parents. When teens discuss their college plans with their families, parents cite concerns over the political climate in Illinois, most especially the budget gridlock.

“I think there have been concerns because of the budget impasse,” said Theresa Duffin, SHG’s coordinator of college counseling. “Because (parents) read about the state institutions in the the newspaper, there are concerns.”

Colleges try to fight back

Illinois schools are responding. Presidents of three Illinois university systems — Tim Killeen from the U of I, Southern Illinois’ Randy Dunn and Eastern Illinois’ David Glassman — last month hit the road themselves to make a pitch for in-state schools directly to 170 of the most promising high school students from central and southern Illinois. 

The event focused on top academic performers.

The “Salute to Illinois Scholars,” held in Mount Vernon, was a first-time event traditionally hosted by U of I in Chicago. Downstate schools were added this year in view of out-migration trends and the uncertainty resulting from the budget deadlock.

As an incentive, the schools offered to waive application fees.

“In my keynote, we talked about the budget (impasse) and that we know that some high-school counselors, and some people in the state, are questioning whether it’s a good idea to stay in Illinois,” said Barbara Wilson, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois System.

“We told them we have a budget now, we’re all doing well,” said Wilson. “We have plans to move ahead on strategic goals.”

— Voice Editor Carla Jimenez contributed to this article. Contact Tim Landis: tim.landis@sj-r.com, 788-1536, http://twitter.com/timlandisSJR.

Many Illinois students leaving state to attend college

Report: College Diploma Out-Of-Reach For Growing Number Of Low-Income Students

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Aileen Ramirez, a fourth-year student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, plans to graduate next fall and possibly go on to get her master’s degree in social work. But UIC wasn’t Ramirez’s first — or even second — choice.

After cobbling together scholarships and other aid, it was the best school she could afford.

“My parents always told me, ‘Try to have good grades so you can get some scholarships. That way you don’t struggle, and we don’t struggle, trying to pay for school,’” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said her parents couldn’t help her pay for school. Her father works at a suburban warehouse and her mother isn’t working now. Her parents also care for two younger siblings. Ramirez also lives at home to cut down on expenses.

Despite her challenges, Ramirez considers herself one of the lucky ones. With her patchwork of scholarships, she’s managed to make it to college and is approaching graduation. But for many other low-income students in Illinois, a college diploma is increasingly out of reach, according to a new reported released Tuesday by the Partnership for College Completion, or PCC.

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The Chicago-based organization found that while middle-class families in Illinois need to set aside a quarter of their total income for a student to attend a four-year institution, low-income families need to set aside 63 percent, according to data from 2014.

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PCC also reported that Illinois ranked fifth highest in the country for in-state tuition and fees during fiscal year 2016 as part of its review of public data and published studies on higher education in Illinois. 

Kyle Westbrook, founding executive director of PCC, said those costs are contributing to lagging graduation rates among low-income students and students of color, even within the more affordable community college system. Though that graduation gap isn’t unique to Illinois, the state has faced greater hurdles as its proportion of low-income students has grown.

“About 50 percent of our state’s elementary and high school students are low income, and that brings with them some significant challenges as well as lack of resources when they are able to move into higher education,” Westbrook said.

The report also found that Illinois was one of just four states that cut funding for higher education over the last two years, a year-to-year difference of 68 percent. The cuts took place during the state’s protracted budget impasse. In addition, about half of the students eligible for need-based state MAP grants didn’t receive the financial award because of insufficient funding. And even if all eligible students received the grant money in 2016, the PCC report found that the average in-state tuition and fee rate increasingly outpaced the maximum MAP awards.

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Jesus Palafox in Dr. Olivia Perlow’s race and ethnic relations class at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago on Jan. 12, 2011. A new study shows the cost of college relative to family income in Illinois is growing at one of the fastest rates in the country. (Shauna Bittle for WBEZ, File)

This year looks better for higher education in Illinois. Following the resolution of the budget impasse this summer, lawmakers set aside about $1.1 billion dollars for public universities for this year, about the same amount they received over the last two years. This year’s budget also increases funding for MAP grants by 10 percent.

Still, PCC said the state Legislature needs to do more to invest in higher education for low-income students to keep talent in state and to make up for lost ground. The study also found that Illinois has the second largest population of students going out of state for college.

Lisa Castillo Richmond, director of strategy at PCC, said states and institutions that set goals to close the disparity gap have made progress.

“They’re really focusing on increasing attainment overall, eliminating achievement gaps, racial achievement gaps and socioeconomic achievement gaps. And that’s where they’re seeing movement,” Castillo Richmond said.

Illinois aims to increase the proportion of adult residents with a post-secondary degree or career credential to 60 percent by 2025. So far, the state is lagging behind that goal. As of 2015, some 50 percent had a college or career credential, according to PCC.

Susie An is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her on Twitter @WBEZeducation.

Report: College Diploma Out-Of-Reach For Growing Number Of Low-Income Students