Community college coalition fights for more state funding
April 30, 2008, SPRINGFIELD -- A statewide coalition of labor unions,
elected officials, and college leaders descended on the State Capitol today to make the case for additional funding
for Illinois community colleges.
"Illinois cannot afford not to fund one of its greatest assets, its community college system," said Kathy Wessel,
president of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association and a trustee at the College of DuPage. "Every day
that we shortchange Illinois' community colleges is a day that we have negatively affected our state's future."
Illinois' 39 community college districts have suffered a precipitous drop in state dollars since 2003, Wessel noted.
When adjusted for inflation, Illinois community colleges currently receive state funding at 1993 levels.
The Community College Coalition for Funding has launched a public awareness campaign to stress the importance of
a community college education. The campaign has released an economic study, held media conferences, placed billboards
across the state, and advocated for the colleges with the Illinois General Assembly and Governor's Office.
Coalition members also wore and distributed stickers today bearing the numbers "64/14" to
demonstrate that Illinois community colleges enroll 64% of the state's public college credit
students while receiving only 14% of Illinois'
higher education dollars.
Terry Bruce, chair of the Illinois Presidents Council and president/CEO of Illinois Eastern Community Colleges,
stated that "Illinois community colleges get paid for the credit hours they generate, but Illinois pays for those
three years after they are generated, and at only 75 percent of what they cost!"
The economic impact study, which can be found on the Illinois Community College Board website (www.ICCB.org),
concluded that students who complete their education at an Illinois community college average a 31% increase in
their lifetime earnings.
The study also pointed out that the Illinois community college system contributed $2.55 billion to the state's
economy through salaries and college expenditures.
In addition to the financial benefits, Illinois community college system can boost of being the entry point for
60 percent of all minority students in higher education in the state.
"The one million students served by Illinois community colleges means a better-educated, better-prepared workforce
for Illinois' businesses, and for those out-of-state business looking for a better trained workforce," said
president Perry Buckley of the Cook County College Teachers Union.
"Every time we raise tuition, we are making it more difficult for our students to attend our institutions,"
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