Illinois college students may be forced to drop out

The Rev. Jesse Jackson.

College students across Illinois may face an academic halt if Gov. Bruce Rauner refuses to pass the education bill that would allow students who rely on state-funded aid to continue their education.  Columbia students, along with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, President of the Illinois Senate John J. Cullerton, and Illinois State representatives Ken Dunkin and Mary Flowers, held a press conference Jan. 29 at Rainbow Push, located at 930 E. 50th St., to call for Rauner to pass for a full education budget.

“There are high school counselors in Illinois today telling students don’t go to school in Illinois,’” Cullerton said. “That is not good for our future and that’s not good for business and that’s not business-friendly because there’s uncertainty whether or not universities are going to get their money.”

Cullerton said Rauner could not spend money unless the senate authorizes him to do so. Cullerton also said Rauner has been authorized to spend money on MAP grants and scholarships in the past but he chose to veto it. However, Cullerton said a new education budget bill is in place authorizing Rauner to spend money on these educational issues and he hopes the governor reconsiders his decision.

Jackson said there is a possibility that 379,000 students in Illinois could be affected by the state budget March 1.

State Rep. Dunkin said this situation is devastating for the state and Rauner should act quickly before students lose their opportunities to receive in-state college education.  

Columbia’s Student Government Association President Luther Hughes, a senior creative writing major, spoke at the event, discussing the importance of a college education and how it is imperative that Illinois students are supported in their efforts towards a degree.

“For many years, students would always ask SGA ‘Hey, where’s our money?” Hughes said. “And all we could say is ‘we don’t know,’ but today we know.”

Flowers said Rauner once again has the opportunity to do the right thing but said she is not sure whether he will.

“We don’t know yet—but hopefully he will sign the bill,” said Flowers.