UI fund covers tuition increase for new students

By Diana Anghel, Assistant News Editor

A $36 million fund has been created by the University of Illinois System to financially aid students faced with tuition increases, housing expenses and other costs. The Students FIRST (Funding Is Required to Support Tuition) financial aid will be prioritized for in-state undergraduate students. 

This fund will cover every new, in-state undergraduate student’s change in tuition for the next academic year, which accounts for a 1.8% increase. 

The funding for Students FIRST comes from the federal aid given to the UI system under the CARES Act, funding from the UI system and private fundraising. President Tim Killeen has donated $1 million from the President’s Office to encourage private donations. 

However, none of the funding from the CARES Act will go toward tuition aid. 

“The CARES Act money as part of the Students FIRST emergency fund will be available to students and families to defray unanticipated costs for students and their families as a result of COVID19,” said Thomas Hardy, University relations executive director, in an email.

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According to Dan Mann, associate provost for enrollment management, and Stephen Bryan, associate vice chancellor and dean of students, institutional funding will be used to cover next year’s tuition increase.

“Final decisions are still being made regarding this funding,” Mann and Bryan said in an email. “A significant portion of the money is being used to fund the Illinois Cares: COVID-19 Support Program that is providing emergency grants to undergraduate and graduate students experiencing a COVID-19-related financial hardship due to unexpected expenses, loss of off-campus employment, out-of-pocket medical expenses, technology needs, living expenses or other basic needs.”

Mann and Bryan said that students who have their tuition covered by the Illinois Promise Program may still apply for emergency grants if they are experiencing COVID-19-related financial hardships.

“These are going to be challenging times; there’s no question about that, budgetarily,” Killeen told the 21st, a news talk show from Illinois Public Media, in an interview. “But as I’ve hoped you’ve noticed, the University is putting students first. And in fact, we have a new emergency fund for students that we call Students FIRST and that is designed to defray some of the emergency costs that some of the (neediest) students are encountering now with maybe family members that have lost jobs.” 

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