IL Comptroller visits SIU to speak on budget

IL Comptroller visits SIU to speak on budget

(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)


The Illinois Comptroller visited Southern Illinois University to talk with students about some of what she’s been able to accomplish regarding the Illinois state Budget.

Susana Mendoza said she’s had a busy fiscal year. Not only has she been using proceeds from the recent General Obligation bond sale to pay down a huge portion of the state’s unpaid bills, she was also able to override Bruce Rauner’s veto of the Debt Transparency act.

“For me I feel grateful having this relief after having worked very hard to convince the governor to finally to finally do it but we are here,” Mendoza said. “Its one step in the right direction, debt transparency another step in the right direction. there are many more steps in the right direction but I’d be happy to lead the way.”

Mendoza has been the Illinnois Comptroller since last year.

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November 14, 2017 at 10:52PM

IL Comptroller visits SIU to speak on budget

NIU cuts out-of-state tuition to lift enrollment

NIU’s Holmes Student Center rises above the center of campus. (Photo by Jack McCarthy / Chronicle Media)

With enrollment down by more than 7,000 students in the past decade, Northern Illinois University is looking to recruit out-of-state for a boost.

The NIU Board of Trustees last week approved a new domestic rate structure for tuition that will set out-of-state tuition for domestic students at the equivalent of the in-state tuition rate, effectively making NIU more affordable to U.S. students from outside Illinois.

The change will apply to domestic students enrolled as NIU undergraduates or through the NIU Graduate School. It will take effect beginning with the fall 2018 semester.

Freshman enrollment this fall was up for the first time in six years, but NIU still reported an enrollment of 18,042 in September, the eighth straight  year of declines. The university had a enrollment of of 25,242 in 2007. 

Currently, full-time domestic undergraduates from outside of Illinois are assessed roughly double the in-state tuition rate, with the exception of students from six Midwestern states who pay a premium of 40 percent above the in-state rate. Similarly, out-of-state full-time domestic students enrolled through the Graduate School are assessed higher tuition rates than their Illinois peers.

Board Chair Wheeler Coleman hailed the change as an exciting moment for the university.

“We believe that moving to this new structure is better for all of our students, as well as the university and our state,” he said.

Sol Jensen, NIU vice president for Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications, said the change will enhance enrollment by making NIU a much more attractive option for students from around the country.

“When you look at other universities in the greater Chicago area—public and private—this immediately makes us a far more affordable and accessible alternative,” Jensen said. “We offer outstanding programs in high-demand fields in a traditional university setting that sits on the doorstep of Chicago. Students get to enjoy the lifestyle of a large, rural Midwestern university, while still having the opportunity to experience internships, employment and the cultural life of one of the world’s great cities. We believe it is a combination that students from other states will find very attractive.”

Jensen also noted that Illinois has led the nation in population decline in recent years and is among the largest net exporters of college freshmen to other states. Ultimately, the change should help strengthen the state’s workforce by attracting talented individuals who are then more likely to live and work in the region, he said.

While the prospect of attracting more out-of-state students is exciting, Freeman said the new tuition-rate structure in no way signals a change in the university’s traditional mission.

“We will continue to focus the majority of our recruitment efforts on expanding enrollment of students from our home state—that won’t change,” she said. “This will not reduce opportunities for students from Illinois to enroll at NIU, and will only enrich the experience they receive by making our campus more geographically diverse.”

While the Board of Trustees today approved the new tuition structure, actual tuition rates for FY19 will be proposed in December.


NIU cuts out-of-state tuition to lift enrollment–

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October 23, 2017 at 12:37PM

NIU cuts out-of-state tuition to lift enrollment

MAP Grant funding available to Lake Land College students

The recently passed Illinois state budget means Lake Land College students who qualified for financial aid from the state will receive it for the 2017-2018 school year.

This form of financial aid is called the MAP grant and it does not have to be repaid. To help students who are making higher education decisions for fall 2017, the college is applying MAP grants to accounts for students who qualify.

Students can check their MAP grant status by logging into their Laker Hub account and selecting �Financial Aid� under the IRIS menu on the left and then �Award Letter.� While in the Laker Hub, students can register for New Student Orientation or call 217-234-5301.

For many students, a MAP grant combined with a Pell grant, both of which do not have to be repaid, will cover all tuition and fees for Lake Land College for the year. Tuition and fees for one year are about $3,900, nearly a fourth of tuition and fees at the average state university.

Lake Land College assures students who qualify will receive the MAP grant financial aid for the fall 2017 semester, which starts Aug. 21. There is plenty of time for new students to get started! Visit and look for the �Enroll Now� button or call 217-234-5254.

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July 21, 2017 at 03:28AM

MAP Grant funding available to Lake Land College students

Illinois is so horrible that it’s dragging down national higher ed averages

* InsiderHigherEd

It’s impossible to examine state higher education finances in 2016 without separating the collapse in Illinois from a more nuanced picture across the rest of the country.

State and local support for higher education in Illinois plunged as the state’s lawmakers and governor were unable to reach a budget agreement and instead passed severely pared-down stopgap funding. Educational appropriations per full-time equivalent student in the state skidded 80 percent year over year, from $10,986 to $2,196. Enrollment in public institutions dropped by 11 percent, or 46,000 students.

That situation proved to be enough of an outlier that it weighed down several key markers in the 2016 State Higher Education Finance report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers association, which is being released today. The report annually offers an in-depth look at the breakdown of state and local funding, tuition revenue, enrollment, and degree completion across public higher education, a sector that enrolls roughly three-quarters of students in U.S. postsecondary education.

Include Illinois in the report’s key markers, and overall public support for higher education fell by 1.8 percent per full-time equivalent student in 2016, to $6,954, according to the report. Exclude Illinois, and overall support increased by 3.2 percent, to $7,116.

Mind boggling.

The full study is here.

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April 20, 2017 at 01:52AM

Illinois is so horrible that it’s dragging down national higher ed averages

ISU investment rating under review by Moody’s

NORMAL — Moody’s Investment Service is reviewing Illinois State University and five other schools for a possible credit rating downgrade, but university officials are confident ISU can retain its current rating.

Moody’s said the review was prompted by the state’s failure to enact a budget providing full operating funding to the university for the current fiscal year.

The review affects about $2.2 billion of public university debt, according to an announcement from Moody’s.

Greg Alt, retiring vice president for finance and planning at ISU, said Wednesday, “We feel confident we’ll hold the rating.”

Alt said Moody’s reviews universities regularly but, “It’s just a little more formal review this time.”

The rating affects both existing debt and future debt.

If ISU’s rating is downgraded, “the cost of borrowing money is higher,” said Alt.

The university is not doing any capital projects requiring new debt, he said, and funding is already in place for the planned Bone Student Center renovation.

However, Alt said, “we’re beginning work on refinancing the Cardinal Court project. We would like to proceed with that by fall.”

A downgrade would impact that but Alt emphasized, “We’d still be able to issue debt. … We’re still investment grade.”

ISU has a rating of Baa1 for Auxiliary Facilities System Revenue Bonds and Baa2 for Certificates of Participation.

The auxiliary facilities bonds received a higher rating because they involve restricted funds for residential and athletics facilities, Alt explained. The certificates are covered by general revenue, which is more affected by state funding.

Among the state’s public universities, only the University of Illinois has a higher rating from Moody’s than ISU.

The U of I is part of the review announced Monday, as are Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Governors State universities.

Northeastern Illinois University’s Certificates of Participation were downgraded from Baa2 to B1 on Monday by Moody’s.

The review will include budgeted fiscal 2018 operations and assumptions and an assessment of near-term debt service commitments against pledged revenues and related reserves, according to Moody’s.

Some schools could see their ratings drop by more than one notch “depending on liquidity and ongoing ability to adjust to the prolonged lack of state operating funding,” Moody’s said.

Alt’s optimism about ISU’s rating relates to its steady enrollment and contingency plans the university has developed “even if state funding is delayed or reduced,” he said.

“We’re able to demonstrate how we’re managing the situation,” said Alt.

Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter: @pg_sobota

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April 20, 2017 at 01:10AM

ISU investment rating under review by Moody’s

SIU could see potential credit rating downgrade


With the Illinois state budget impasse now in it’s 22 month, state universities are starting to feel the affects in more ways than one.

First, the $30 million in cuts for Southern Illinois University, now the university’s credit rating could be taking a hit.

According to Moody’s credit rating, Northeastern Illinois University has already been downgraded, and SIU along with five other state universities could be next.

According to Moody’s Investor Service, the review of the six Illinois public universities is prompted by the failure of the state to pass a budget.

Senior on the SIU campus, Laini Watts, said she is thinking about her future.

“Maybe moving out of state, I don’t want to stay here with this. I mean taxes are already high enough, we don’t even see our taxes being used,” Watts said. “And it’s just, I don’t really want to deal with that. Especially since I’m from cook county and they have the highest taxes. Not only in the state, but I think in the country. I just, I don’t want to deal with paying into a system that doesn’t do anything for me.”

Watts wants to continue her schooling in the future, but not a public school in Illinois. Another student at SIU, John Potts, is also looking ahead.

“I’m kind of worried that we are going to lose some of our departments, but I’m pretty sure since I’m I the chemistry department and we get federal grant and we get military grants, I mean we bring in money. I’m sure my department will still exist, but I’m worried about the other stem majors that might not, ” Potts said.

The potential downgrade of ratings will directly and indirectly affect SIU.

“In terms of the day to day operations of the campus, no one will feel it,” President Randy Dunn said. “If you are not going out to acquire more debt or to do a debt issuance for borrowing purposes, there isn’t an immediate and direct impact that’s felt. But again it does play into this concern about reputation.  About the public’s confidence in its state universities, and that’s something we have to speak to and deal with in a very forthright manner.”

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April 19, 2017 at 10:39AM

SIU could see potential credit rating downgrade

Eastern waiting out budget impasse

CHARLESTON — There was hardly a moment of doubt for Eastern Illinois University leaders that an Illinois state budget would be passed and passed relatively soon back in 2015.

Even though a budget was not passed by the end of the legislative session May 31 that year, EIU President David Glassman said it was not a worry just yet.

“That is not the first time, for the state, that they haven’t completed a budget by the end of the session,” Glassman said. “So, I wasn’t particularly concerned because that has happened before.”

In 2007, the state lawmakers and the governor at the time, Rod Blagojevich, were at odds, unable to pass a budget for a six-week stint.

“The assumption is that it would get done in the next month or couple of months, and then we would have our budget and everything would run as it normally has,” Glassman said. “We just always assumed a budget would come.”

Even for state leaders, the expectation was that it would happen relatively soon.

“I always had it in the back of my head that, you know, it was not going to play out the way it would play out,” State Rep. Reggie Phillips, R-Charleston, said. “I always thought, somehow, that we would get some sort of budget.”

But days passed, then months and Illinoisans had yet to see their lawmakers pass a budget.

“There would be various deadlines that we would hear about,” Glassman said. “Those deadlines kept getting extended and extended.”

State lawmakers said it would be the next month. Then, they would say it would come by the end of the year, but the impasse continued.

And still today, state lawmakers and the governor have yet to come to an agreement on a budget — one year and nine months into the budget impasse, making this not the first, but the longest time the state has taken to hammer out a budget.

As each month passed, budget tightening at state universities became more frequent.

EIU responded fairly quickly to the news that money would not be coming down the pipeline. After the budget failed to make it through, Eastern furloughed 222 administrative and professional employees.

Soon after, development projects on the campus were halted and layoff notices went out. It would not be until January 2016, though, when the big cuts came. As tuition dollars started running thin and the state seemed none too eager to pass a budget, Eastern leaders made the decision to cut an estimated 200 positions.

This news prompted activism among many people in Charleston and started one of the bigger rallies, of which there have been many now, calling for the state to fund the universities as well as sparking a funding effort to aid laid off workers.

Soon after employees were laid off, a Charleston area group, Support EIU Employees, began to collect funds for those recently laid off employees to pay bills and other necessary items.

After a couple fundraising efforts, the group amassed $16,000 for EIU employees in need.

Andy Eggers, Support EIU Employees member, said it was a swell of surprising support from the community that made the funding efforts possible.

“It was impressive to me — the idea that everyone in the community was a part of it,” Eggers said.

“Made me realize how many people are dependent on EIU and how many people realize that,” he continued.

The group still has funds they are willing to distribute. Leaders have now opened up their parameters to include any EIU employee, former or otherwise, who has fallen on hard times. They can be contacted through their Facebook page.

Another group, Fund EIU, sought to work on state funding for the university. The initial “Fund EIU” rally on Eastern’s campus, along with other rallies at places struggling more at the time, such as Chicago State University, garnered significant media attention and shone a spotlight on what the budget standoff, just months in, had done to universities that rely on state funding.

Universities have yet to receive additional funding beyond what was given to them by the end of the year.

While Eastern officials have made no mention of cuts either in the near future or down the road, other universities such as Southern Illinois University have taken such steps. SIU officials recently announced $30 million in potential cuts to the university to offset the lack of state funding, according to the Southern Illinoisan newspaper.

Another school, Northeastern Illinois University, has been temporarily furloughing employees numerous times in recent weeks, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Today, state leaders are still sparring over the details of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agenda, which includes items such as term limits and worker’s compensation reform, and the long-term budget impasse appears to have no end in sight.

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April 17, 2017 at 03:50PM

Eastern waiting out budget impasse