Pritzker says SIUE enrollment could increase under higher education plan
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said the 5% increase in enrollment at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville over the past year is an example of what he hopes the rest of his proposals on higher education can accomplish.
“The smartest young people are choosing SIU in greater and greater numbers — and that’s great progress that we should celebrate, but there’s even more work to do,” Pritzker said.
The governor touted his budget plans for higher education at SIUE’s campus on Thursday, saying he wants to make tuition for the state’s universities and colleges more affordable.
Pritzker’s legislative proposal includes a 7% spending increase for higher education, which he said is the largest hike for state schools in the past two decades.
The plan also means an additional $100 million for the state’s Monetary Award Program — a grant program for lower-income students who need financial assistance.
James Minor, SIUE’s chancellor, said 30% of the students at his school use the grant program, which covers their tuition. In all, 5,400 students across the Southern Illinois University system receive the grant.
“I can't talk about how important that is to us,” said Daniel Mahony, president of the Southern Illinois University system. “It's hard to put into words.”
At Thursday’s press conference, Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, who taught in the math department at SIUE before being elected to the statehouse in 2016, said the state universities previously fell into an “abyss,” where she witnessed regular budget cuts.
Now, with continued support of grants and scholarship programs from the state level, Stuart said she’s seeing improvement.
“Those are returning the state of Illinois, especially right here in Edwardsville, to its proper place as a destination for higher education,” Stuart said.
The Illinois legislature still needs to consider the proposals. Budget negotiations in the House and Senate are ongoing.
SIUE will soon begin construction on a new Health Sciences Complex that will house its College of Nursing and College of Pharmacy. The university received $109 million from Rebuild Illinois, a 2019 legislative priority of Pritzker’s to improve infrastructure and facilities all over the state.