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Should Illinois' Top Students Be Guaranteed Admission To State Universities?

graduation ceremony
WOSU Public Media

As public universities in Illinois have seen enrollment declines in recent years, one state lawmaker has an idea aimed at keeping high school graduates from leaving.

The Higher Education Guaranteed Admissions Act states if a student does really well on the ACT or SAT — scoring among the top 10 percent nationwide — they’d be automatically admitted to any public university in Illinois.

It’s sponsored by State Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield). He heard about someone who scored a 33 out of 36 on his ACT, but was denied admission to the U of I, where both his parents and older sister attended.

 “My issue with the University of Illinois is that we give them a lot of money, so we need to make sure we are not losing our residents,” said Batinick. “We need to give our residents priority, not out-of-state, or out-of-country residents.”

The new law, if passed, would only guarantee admission. Students would still have to pay their own way for tuition, housing, and other fees.

Batinick also addressed high tuition fees in Illinois as another reason for an enrollment slide. “We are third in the nation for funding, nearly double in national average, yet we really have high tuition in the state of Illinois,” he said. 

He wants lawmakers and officials from public universities to work together to lower tuition, and decrease admission obstacles for students. 

Public universities are already making changes with regard to test scores. Northern Illinois University is offering “test-blind admissions,” where students don’t have to submit standardized test scores.

Meanwhile, the U of I at Urbana-Champaign offers free tuition for Illinois students from families with income of less than $67,000 if they are admitted.


Olivia Mitchell is a graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legislative session.
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