Eliminate General Assembly Scholarships, legislators have no boundaries

The General Assembly Scholarships have long been an issue for the University as well as the taxpayers of Illinois.

Most of our student colleagues are likely unaware that they are currently paying a portion of their tuition dollars to support General Assembly Scholarship recipients: The state does not compensate the University for the tuition waivers, creating an unfunded mandate which is passed along to the student body in the form of increased tuition.

Legislators are not bound by any particular set of rules when giving out the scholarships, which leaves the system open for abuse. I support scholarships, and I am more than willing for a portion of my tax dollars to be used to support higher education and help my fellow students afford a degree. Indeed, I am certain that the vast majority of General Assembly Scholarship recipients are deserving of the award.

However, I cannot support a general system which is open to political abuse and creates unfunded mandates for public schools which, in the end, force other students to pick up the tab.

I would prefer to see the elimination of the General Assembly Scholarships. The University’s Office of Student Financial Aid is much more suited to distribute scholarships to deserving students than our state legislators are. If General Assembly Scholarships were to continue, the state should be required to compensate the University for lost tuition revenue based on the number of scholarship recipients who choose to attend, as well as place strict guidelines for legislators to follow when determining who should be given the award.

It’s question about who should be determining the recipients — legislators or the University itself.

*Jim Maskeri*,

junior in LAS, chairman of the Illinois Student Senate’s Committee on Academic Affairs