Education Desk: Higher Ed Officials Describe Effects Of Budget Impasse

Mar 14, 2016

Credit public domain

Higher education officials used terms like "starving," "dismantling," and “economic suicide” last week as they tried to persuade state senators to find some way to heal the budget impasse.

One of the last witnesses to testify before the senate appropriations committee was Eric Zarnikow, director of the state agency that runs the Monetary Award Program. MAP grants help needy college kids pay tuition.

Zarnikow quoted his mother, who he says always warned him not to eat the seed corn.

"It took me a long time to like figure out what the heck you're talking about mom, but it basically is over the winter, if you eat your seed corn, you have nothing to plant in the spring," Zarnikow said, "and you're doomed."

Illinois colleges have gone more than 8 months without state funding, and Spring is less than a week away.

College presidents say they've cut their budgets to the bone, and students are leaving for out-of-state schools.