UI’s new financial aid plan isn’t really new


Megan Jones

President-elect Timothy L. Killeen proposed a new financial aid plan remarkably similar to the old plan.

By Angelica LaVito, Staff Writer

University President Timothy Killeen unveiled a “new financial aid commitment” Wednesday at the Board of Trustees meeting.

The only problem is: it’s not really new.

The plan that would promise to award $170 million in financial aid to Illinois residents is part of a bill that would secure state funding for the University of Illinois system. The $170 million figure represents 85 percent of the $200 million awarded to all students.

However, Killeen and Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson acknowledged that in-state students already receive about 85 percent, or $170 million, of financial aid.

“What we’re committing is to continue that, and as we grow the pie, continue that commitment of 85 percent,” Wilson said.

Financial aid comes from a mix of sources, including state and private money. Wilson and Killeen expect the total amount of funding to grow, and insist this plan will ensure they continue to award 85 percent of it to Illinois students.

The amount of financial aid the University awards is at an all-time high, Wilson said, but state money is needed in order to “sustain and grow that.” Illinois is second to New Jersey in the number of students lost to colleges in other states.

“We know for a fact that students who are admitted to the University of Illinois and don’t come to the University of Illinois often sometimes don’t come because of financial aid packages being insufficient, so we want to fill that gap because every one of those situations is a loss for the state,” Killeen said.

The “Investment in Illinoisans,” or Triple I, program, will be attached to the Investment, Performance and Accountability Commitment plan the state legislature is considering.

If passed, the bill would guarantee at least $647 million from the state annually for five years.

In exchange for funding, the university system must meet targets for Illinois student enrollment, retention and financial aid to need-based Illinois residents and underrepresented students, and it must also publish an annual report card.

The system already meets all targets included in the bill.

“If we don’t get state funding, we’re not going to be able to deliver on all the promises on our side of the compact,” Killeen said. “If we do, we will.”

The amendment will be added to the Commitment proposal tomorrow.

The bill was first filed in November but did not receive a vote before the session ended. Rep. Michael Zalewski and Sen. Bill Cunningham, members of the U of I caucus, refiled the House and Senate bills in February and January, respectively. 

Killeen headed to Springfield after Wednesday’s meeting to testify about the legislation.

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