UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The UI is taking steps to help students, who may not be able to afford the cost of college, continue their educations: Free college for families making $61,000 or less.
It’s part of a new financial aid program called Illinois Commitment. It affects half the families in Illinois.
The hope is students won’t have to fill out a dozen different forms. Just by filling out your application and your financial aid form, you automatically qualify for the program.
Students started their first days at UI worrying about classes, friends and new schedules. But next year, some will have one less thing to worry about.
“Illinois Commitment is a need-based program. The only test is based on the student’s social economic status.”
The median income in Illinois is $61,000. Students from those families will automatically be enrolled in the program when they’re accepted into the school.
“No other testing, no other requirements or applications for them to file.”
Tony Tanner is a counselor at Central High School and says this is a game changer.
“Some might have an emotional piece to it because this is a possibility they might not have thought could be possible.”
The university is planning to spend up to $4 million on the program coming from federal grants, MAP Grants and tuition fees. The vice provost says they’re technically already using this money for the students.
“We’re already doing a lot of it. Part of this is letting students know this up front instead of going through the process to find that out.”
The hope is students won’t walk away because they believe college is too expensive. Of course, they still have to be accepted to the university, but those who qualify can still get other grants, or merit-based awards. Those will be added after the tuition the UI is already promising. It means it could help pay for room and board or books.
EIU is also offering incentives to get Illinois’ students to apply. It’s newest is the Community Ambassador Scholarship for regional students. It’s going to 66 high school graduates. Each scholarship comes with $2,000 for each student. Those who live within 60 miles of EIU are encouraged to apply.