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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2001

Governor Ryan Signs Postsecondary Legislation

GOVERNOR RYAN SIGNS
POSTSECONDARY LEGISLATION

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. George H. Ryan signed legislation today which could help nearly 67,000 Illinois low-income students qualify for financial aid to pay for post-secondary education or training.

The Governor signed SB406 which increases the maximum grant awarded by the State under the need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP) administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). With the Governor's action, the maximum MAP award will increase by $228 or almost 5 percent, from $4,740 to $4,968.

"Since taking office, I have prioritized education and emphasized the importance of post-secondary education and training for students of all income levels," Gov. Ryan said. "The signing of this bill demonstrates my continued commitment to achieving that goal."

Under the Fiscal Year 2002 budget signed into law by the Governor, ISAC's MAP program will award $375.6 million to Illinois undergraduates who demonstrate financial need and enroll at eligible in-state public universities, community colleges and private institutions. Financial need is determined by comparing college costs with the financial resources available to the applicant, whether from family income, other sources of federal, institutional and private financial aid, and student earnings.

"The significance of the Governor's action should not be underestimated," said ISAC Chairman J. Robert Barr. "The average annual family income of MAP recipients is under $20,000, and 32 percent of those receiving MAP aid live below the federal poverty level. Without MAP, many of those students would be unable to access post-secondary education, and the opportunity to improve their lives."

"We applaud the Governor's action, and the strong support state lawmakers have consistently extended to the MAP program," said ISAC Executive Director Larry Matejka. "We are especially gratified by the emphasis the Governor has placed on strengthening state efforts to reach adult learners and less traditional student populations, and accelerating efforts to work with employers and community organizations to reach students who might otherwise not have access to information about the financial aid opportunities available to them."

Also included in SB406 are provisions that will help ensure ongoing access to student loan dollars, and the continued availability of an alternative loan program through which the Commission customizes programs and products designed to meet the unique needs of each participating institution.

"It is initiatives like these that led the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education to rank Illinois the number one state for its efforts to ensure the affordability of a college education," Gov. Ryan said. "I am proud of that honor and will continue my efforts to preserve the leadership role that the State of Illinois has demonstrated in this area."

The Monetary Award Program represents the third largest program of its kind in the nation. It represents the largest of the 13 gift assistance programs administered by ISAC. The Commission is a state agency responsible for administering most of the state financial aid programs available to post-secondary students. The agency also offers a prepaid tuition program and serves as a guarantor of federally-reinsured Title IV students loans.

Senate sponsors were: Sens. Frank Watson, R-Greenville and Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood.

House sponsors were: Reps. David Wirsing, R-Sycamore; Judy Erwin, D-Chicago; Cynthia Soto, D-Chicago; William Delgado, D-Chicago and Karen May, D-Highland Park.

Governor Ryan also signed into law HB1048 which requires Regional Offices of Education and Chicago Public Schools to post unfilled teaching positions on their web sites. The web sites will be linked to the State Board of Education's web site.

"This legislation is a recommendation from my Joint Education Committee," Gov. Ryan said. "Posting unfilled teaching vacancies on web sites will speed the process for potential applicants."

House sponsors of the measure were: Reps. Cynthia Soto, D-Chicago; Kevin McCarthy, D-Orland Park; Mike Boland, D-East Moline and Monique Davis,D-Chicago.

The Senate sponsor was Sen. Miguel del Valle, D-Chicago.

The Governor also signed HB1096, which allows school districts to establish alternative learning opportunities for at-risk students in grades 4 through 12 to help them meet Illinois Learning Standards.

"This legislation will help these students complete their education in an orderly, safe and secure learning environment," Gov. Ryan said. "At the present time it is estimated that about 100,000 students need this support to help them meet the Illinois Learning Standards."

The legislation also allows the school districts to contract with other entities to establish needed programs to help the at-risk students. There is $1 million new dollars in the Fiscal Year budget for this expanded program.

The House sponsors of the bill were: Reps. Rick Winkel, R-Champaign; Phil Novak, D-Bradley; Mary Lou Cowlishaw, R-Naperville; Art Turner, D-Chicago and Doug Hoeft, R-Elgin.

Senate sponsors were: Sens. Bradley Burzynski, R-Sycamore and Stanley Weaver, R-Urbana.

In other bill action the Governor signed three bills that will help to reduce the nursing shortage in Illinois.

SB751 provides that $750,000 in the Nursing Dedicated and Professional Fund will be appropriated to the Department of Public Health for nursing scholarships. The measure was sponsored in the House by Reps. Jim Fowler, D-Harrisburg; Boland; Gary Forby, D-Benton; Dan Reitz, D-Steeleville and Ricca Slone, D-Peoria Heights. Sen. Burzynski was the Senate sponsor.

HB205 removes barriers to licensure for foreign and out-of-state nurses and provides time for passing a licensure examination. The bill was sponsored in the House by Reps. Angelo "Skip" Saviano, R-Elmwood Park; Terry Parke, R-Hoffman Estates and William Black, R-Danville. The Senate sponsor was Burzynski.

HB2436 removes the limit on the number of nursing scholarships that may be awarded. The bill is effective Jan. 1, 2002. The House sponsors were: Reps. Pat Lindner, R-Aurora; Monique Davis, D-Chicago; Black; and Harry Osterman, D-Chicago. Senate sponsors were: Sens. Burzynski and Carol Ronen, D-Chicago.


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