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February 28, 2018    

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Mitch Dickey
University of Illinois Alumni Alliance

Alumni, students advocate for U of I System
About 250 join annual Day at the Capitol and first-ever rally

SPRINGFIELD – Nearly 250 current students and alumni met with Illinois legislators Wednesday to advocate for the University of Illinois System during its annual Day at the Capitol in Springfield. The afternoon-long event also included the U of I System’s first-ever Statehouse rally, featuring speeches in the Capitol Rotunda by legislators, a student and a graduate.

As legislators work to develop a state budget for fiscal year 2019, students and alumni joined President Tim Killeen and other system leaders to advocate for full and timely funding for the U of I System, which enrolls more than 83,000 students at its universities in Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign. Funding for day-to-day operations was delayed and ultimately reduced by a two-year budget impasse that ended last summer. The impasse also halted student financial aid through the state’s Monetary Award Program (MAP), assistance that was covered by the U of I System until the stalemate ended.
“As a student, I felt the impact of the budget crisis,” said Marvin Slaughter, a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “There is a sense of panic about your future when you realize, at no fault of your own, that critical funding for your MAP grant or your program of study could be at risk because your state could not pass a budget. I am in Springfield today to let my elected officials know how important stable funding is to me and my fellow students.”

The U of I System has requested $681 million in funding for fiscal year 2019, which begins July 1. The proposal represents a 5 percent increase compared with fiscal 2015, the year before the impasse began.

The U of I System also has proposed an innovative bill that would provide financial certainty while serving the needs of the state. The proposed U of I Investment, Performance, and Accountability Commitment, or IPAC, would guarantee stable, adequate funding for five years in exchange for tangible performance standards such as admitting more Illinois residents and maintaining high graduation and retention rates.  

“The University of Illinois System is a key engine of progress for our state,” Killeen said. “It pumps nearly $14 billion into the Illinois economy annually. Our universities educate half of students in Illinois public higher education, and about 70 percent of our graduates stay and work in Illinois. We are committed to creating even more opportunities for students and expanding the pipeline of world-class talent that will move Illinois forward.”
The annual U of I System Day at the Capitol provides students and alumni the opportunity to tell their elected representatives about the educational and economic importance of the system’s three universities to them and to the future of Illinois.

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About the University of Illinois Alumni Alliance

The University of Illinois Alumni Alliance is an independent, not-for-profit organization that strives to enhance the system's universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield by connecting, inspiring and celebrating more than 700,000 alumni.

About the University of Illinois System

The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with more than 83,000 students, nearly 25,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.