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Illinois Can Revolutionize the Future of Funding for Higher Education

March 14, 2024
Contact: Emma Bittner
(972) 510-3395 |

Illinois Can Revolutionize the Future of Funding for Higher Education

(Springfield, IL) – Last week, advocates and elected officials gathered to amplify the recommendations from the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding.

After two years of hearing directly from advocates, students, and higher education stakeholders, the committee released recommendations for Illinois to begin distributing state appropriations equitably to public universities through a new funding formula based on four main criteria: adequacy, equity, stability, and accountability. 

The current state of how Illinois is funding higher education is failing and putting the burden of the cost of achieving a higher education on students, disproportionately impacting low-income Black and brown families. Funding has been cut 46 percent since 2000 into higher institutions, preventing students from affording to get a degree and having access to necessary resources on campus, especially those from marginalized backgrounds. By implementing the recommendations from the Illinois Commission on Equitable Public University Funding, lawmakers have an opportunity to make Illinois universities equitable, accessible, and affordable, ensuring all institutions and their students can flourish. 

This initiative will ensure that money is directed towards universities providing adequate resources and services that meet the needs of their diverse student base. This funding model will ensure that all institutional staff and their students have the necessary resources to thrive, no matter the public university.

Yesterday, a legislative briefing was held at the Illinois State Capital led by Advance Illinois and the Coalition for Transforming Higher Education leaders that brought together higher education advocates, agencies, and state legislators to learn more about the recommended funding model. This briefing featured a panel of Illinois supporters and a YI student advocate, Margarita Arango, to share the importance and impact this would have on college students across Illinois, stressing the need for an equitable funding formula. Young Invincibles strongly supports this proposal, underscoring the importance of equitably funding higher education institutions.

In response, Jorge Arteaga, Midwest Policy and Advocacy Manager at Young Invincibles said: 

“The state of higher education in Illinois is failing current and future students. We must fund our higher education institutions with more purpose and direction. For years, the disjointed funding model for public universities has disproportionately funded institutions, creating a select few universities that can truly support students and their needs fully. Unfortunately, not all of the students in Illinois have the option or opportunity to attend.  This has resulted in students of color and students from low-income backgrounds fighting for unaffordable and unattainable degrees at institutions that are not able to fully support them.

The recommendations outlined by the commission are straightforward and prioritize universities that are furthest from adequate funding. Implementing this model not only provides a new path of accountability, but also propels forward the goals of affordability, enrollment, and opportunities for underrepresented students. It is imperative we implement and fund this model and see a higher education system that supports students statewide.”

In response, Margarita Arango, advocate and student at the University of Illinois at Chicago said:

“The higher education system in Illinois leaves students with limited options and an inaccessibility to college. The current funding model concentrates funds at a select few universities, leaving the others unable to adequately support their student bodies. When I was applying to colleges, I felt like my in-state options were limited because many Illinois public institutions didn’t offer the major, extracurriculars, diversity, or other supports that I was looking for. Additionally, like most in-state students, none of the public universities in Illinois were affordable for me. Luckily, scholarships made the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) financially accessible to me, which is a relatively well-funded public institution, but not every student has that same opportunity. This leaves many without proper support at underfunded institutions.

If Illinois public universities were more equitably funded, more institutions could offer these supports and cater to a wider range of students. All Illinois students deserve a variety of options for a quality in-state education, and equitably funding our public universities will give students more options on their path to success.”


Young Invincibles (YI) is a national advocacy and policy nonprofit organization focused on amplifying the voice of young people in the political process at the local, state, and federal levels. YI focuses on issues impacting young adults ages 18 to 34 in higher education, health care, economic security, and civic engagement. Our offices include Washington, D.C., California, Colorado, Illinois, New York, and Texas. For more information, please contact Emma Bittner at (972) 510-3395 or