State univ. students, staff to speak; Lt. Gov. Simon will testify on community colleges
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) and State Representative Naomi Jakobsson (D-Champaign) will convene a joint hearing on college affordability Wednesday as chairs of the Senate and House committees on higher education. Committee members will hear testimony from students as well as representatives of state universities and community colleges. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon will also speak.
"The affordability of a college degree must be foremost in our discussion of higher education," Frerichs said. "Illinois families are doing more with less these days, yet the costs of tuition, textbooks and room and board keep rising. Educational debt limits too many students' post-graduation options. Legislators need to hear how the cost of college impacts students, how institutions are addressing the problem of affordability and what the legislature can do to help."
The meeting will be a subject matter hearing; no specific legislation will be considered. It will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, in Room D1 of the Stratton Building in Springfield. Confirmed witnesses include staff and students from the University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University and the Illinois community college system. Simon will testify about the educational and financial needs of community college students. In 2011, Simon toured all 48 of the state's community colleges.
"Funding MAP grants but also considering other approaches to college affordability will keep more of our young people in Illinois after graduation," Jakobsson said. "Talented college graduates leave our state when they can't find a job that will let them pay off their debt quickly. Addressing the financial piece of the higher education puzzle is crucial to maintaining one of Illinois' greatest assets: its high-quality workforce."
"I'm looking forward to this chance to listen to the students who rely on Illinois' excellent college and university system to prepare them for life and the workforce," Frerichs said. "I hope this hearing gives rise to legislation that will open the door to higher education for more Illinoisans."