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Education Desk: Killeen Bargains For Bucks

Timothy Killeen headshot
University of Illinois System
Tim Killeen

The University of Illinois is offering state lawmakers a deal: The school will meet several access and accountability benchmarks, if the state will pledge five years of stable funding.

The ongoing budget impasse has been hard on higher education. Colleges and universities across Illinois have been starved for state money for more than a year, subsisting on stop-gap budgets that amount to a mere fraction of the state’s usual support. But a plan proposed by U. of I. President Tim Killeen would commit Illinois to giving his school the same amount of funds it got in 2015 -- for the next five years.

“The General Assembly would vote annually to appropriate the agreed upon funds to the University of Illinois provided we on our side at the university system had met our commitments in this compact,” he says.

In exchange, the U. of I.'s three campuses would cap tuition rates, provide more financial aid, maintain above-average retention and graduation rates, and admit more Illinois students. Killeen calls this plan the Investment, Performance, and Accountability Commitment, or IPAC.

“Under the IPAC, we would set high annual thresholds for admitting Illinois residents as first-time students or transfers in undergraduate programs by more than 27,000 system-wide," he says, "and that would be a number in statute.”

Killeen’s proposal, which has been filed with the General Assembly as HB 6623, asks lawmakers to restore state funding to the $662 million dollars U. of I. received in 2015 — the last year for which lawmakers passed a regular state budget -- and increase funding each year at a rate aligned with the Consumer Price Index.

Killeen presented his plan Wednesday to the U. of I.’s Board of Trustees at their regular meeting in Chicago. A bi-partisan group of lawmakers attended Killeen's announcement to show their support for his proposal.



After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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