Aiming to stop college students from attending out-of-state schools, the University of Illinois announced a new financial aid proposal in mid-March that would allocate $170 million or more each year to talented Illinois high school graduates for five years.
In a press release announcing the proposal, University of Illinois said that recipients of the aid would be required to work in Illinois for a period of time. “We want to make sure our best-and-brightest students study right here at home and then use the talents they nurture at our three great universities to move Illinois forward,” University of Illinois President Tim Killeen said during a Board of Trustees meeting last week, according to the University of Illinois press release.
Killeen claimed that the idea would build upon efforts already underway in the state to keep college students from leaving the state, either to attend another school or work elsewhere. Killeen pointed to studies showing that students tend to stay in the state where they earned their degree. Currently, legislation is making the rounds in Illinois ensuring that funding to universities is more predictable provided that the school meets measurable performance goals that serve the needs of the state. Killeen’s expanded financial aid would be an amendment to this legislation, the U of I Investment, Performance and Accountability Commitment legislation.
According to Killeen, the increased financial aid dollars is “critical” to stem the exodus of college students. Illinois, he says, is second to New Jersey in terms of the number of students attending out-of-state colleges and universities. In 2015, 45 percent of high school graduates in Illinois enrolled in a school outside the state, compared to 29 percent in 2002. The main reasons: inability to afford the tuition or “financial barriers.”
While Illinois isn’t the most expensive place to attend college, borrowers in the state do pay more than the national average of $28,000. According to new research from LendEDU the average student loan debt in Illinois stands at $28,922 with 68 percent of graduates owing at least one loan. The state has a student loan default rate of 4.7 percent which is also lower than the national average of 11.8 percent. Still, there are some districts that have above average student loan debt. Seven of the 18 districts have an average student loan debt per borrower that is greater than $30,000. In District 16, home to Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the average student debt stands at $38,400, the worst in the state, with 85 percent of graduates owing at least one student loan.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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