Governor Quinn Vetoes General Assembly’s Illinois University Tuition Waiver Bill

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–May 11, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today vetoed Senate Bill 365, which placed limited restrictions on Illinois’ legislative tuition waiver program, and called on the General Assembly to abolish its practice of granting free university scholarships to selected constituents.

Governor Quinn added that the tuition waiver program is an unwarranted burden on cash-strapped universities, which must absorb the cost of the legislative tuition waivers during these harsh economic times.

Governor Quinn also stated that it’s unfair that this tuition award program exists although the State has not adequately funded the Monetary Award Program (MAP), which could result in 200,000 eligible students statewide being denied essential financial assistance.

“This bill fails to adopt the fundamental reforms that are necessary,” Governor Quinn stated in his veto message. “At a time when students are being deprived basic assistance and we are asking our institutions of higher learning to operate with scarce resources, I cannot affix my signature to something that allows student assistance to be based on anything other than need and merit.”

The longstanding tuition waiver program allows each member of the General Assembly to award two, four-year scholarships annually to any of the 10 state-funded universities in Illinois. Typically, these scholarships are awarded in the form of eight one-year grants by each member. In fiscal year 2009, state universities absorbed approximately $13.5 million in the cost of legislative scholarships.

The Illinois Monetary Award Program is a need-based grant available through the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). Currently, more than 200,000 of the state’s low-income students are being denied assistance for their higher education due to partial funding of the program, while at the same time universities face an unprecedented backlog of unpaid bills.

“A program that relies on the favor of a legislator rather than the merit of an applicant is not a program I can endorse,” Governor Quinn stated in his veto message.