What is the Illinois Budget Impasse?
Since July 1, 2015, Illinois lawmakers have not been able to agree on a state budget. As a result, the state has been without a budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Many state agencies have had to cut services, tap into financial reserves, or even borrow to continue operating. Illinois now holds the title for the longest state budgetary impasse in history.
How does this affect Governors State University (GSU)?
GSU, like all public state universities, depends upon state funding. The university operates on an annual budget funded primarily by student tuition and a state appropriation. The state appropriated funds offset the cost of operating each university so that tuition can be kept affordable.
For nearly two years, Governors State University has been operating without a budget from the state. The state has provided stop-gap funding to help keep public universities afloat, but it's not enough. GSU expected to receive about $24 million for our operations in both Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017. Instead, stop-gap funding for GSU resulted in a 70 percent cut in appropriations, or only $6 million for FY 2016, and a 50 percent cut, or only $12 million for FY 2017.
Additionally, funding for MAP grants has also been impacted by the state budget crisis. For both years GSU has fronted MAP funding for students. So far the university has not been reimbursed by the state for MAP funds in FY 2017. In spite of this, GSU is covering MAP grants for its students.
How has GSU been able to survive without a budget for so long?
Throughout the crisis, Governors State has been able to proceed because of careful and restrained budget management, innovative programming to open new markets, program realignments, and personnel reductions.
In FY 2016, GSU tapped into emergency operating reserves set aside for physical plant repair and maintenance projects because the state provides no money for deferred maintenance.
However, using those funds meant the University could not address serious deferred maintenance issues, such as replacing a 50 year-old water-pipe system and roofs.
Why did you raise tuition and cut programs?
The decision to cut programs and increase tuition was difficult but necessary, to maintain and secure the quality and integrity of the university's future amid ongoing budget uncertainties in the State of Illinois. Even with the increase, GSU maintains its position as the most affordable public university in the Chicagoland region.
The University will continue to provide high quality academic programs as we make room for a few new majors specifically tailored to twenty-first century workforce needs. The decisions we make are all in the interest of the long-term health of the university.
I am a student enrolled in a program that was eliminated. Will I be able to complete my degree at GSU?
Absolutely. Students enrolled in eliminated degree programs will be able to complete their degree program at GSU through a teach-out plan.
Is GSU closing?
No, GSU is not closing. The university remains unwavering in its commitment to serve its students with high quality academic programming.
Will there be more cuts to some academic programs in the future?
Academic program review is an ongoing process. Programs are evaluated for their viability [enrollment, growth], alignment with the university or college mission, and workforce demands. Program review is carried out by the Provost, in consultation with the Faculty Senate and program faculty. If an academic program is eliminated, the university would meet its obligations to student completion for students enrolled in affected programs.
I am a Monetary Award Program recipient, but the State has not funded MAP. What will happen to me?
GSU is committed to putting students first. GSU will continue to accept liability for students' MAP funding for the coming academic year, 2017-18, just as it has in the last two years of the budget crisis. In other words, students will not have to pay back funds to the university, even if the state does not fulfill its promises to Illinois families. These decisions were made so that students can enroll in school without financial fear.
Does GSU still offer teacher preparation?
Absolutely. The university will continue its strong commitment to secondary teacher preparation by offering the undergraduate bachelor's degrees in the student's content area (Biology, Chemistry, English, or Mathematics) as well as pedagogical preparation, including student teaching, leading to a Post-baccalaureate teacher licensure certificate. This option will ensure that students have strong subject matter preparation as undergraduates and complete their majors in a timely fashion.
Because many of the content area majors have electives built into the 120 credit hour baccalaureate program, students will be able to take some of their education courses as electives as part of their content area bachelor's degree. This will reduce the time needed to completing the licensure requirements. The bachelor degree programs leading to a B.A. or B.S. in secondary school teacher education will be phased out, and all students currently in this program will be able to complete their degrees under a 'teach-out' plan for each student.
Beginning in Summer 2017, students who are interested in pursuing secondary education should first contact an advisor in the major area of study (Biology, Chemistry, English, Mathematics) to look at the requirements for the content. The Post-baccalaureate certificate will be housed in the Division of Education and students will be able to work with an education advisor to complete their licensure requirements.
For the future, the university is exploring the establishment of a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) option for individuals who have bachelor degrees in content areas, but are interested in becoming a licensed teacher and earning a master's degree.
Will GSU be open in the summer and fall?
Yes! GSU has made it easy for you to enjoy the warm weather this summer while taking advantage of our flexible course scheduling, with numerous online and hybrid courses. We look forward to welcoming students this fall. Our award-winning first-year program, taught entirely by full-time faculty, will continue to provide what we consider the best freshman experience in the state—maybe in the nation. The Center for the Junior Year (funded under a federal grant) delivers state-of-the-art assistance to transfer students on connecting study in the major with career opportunities. And our graduate programs continue to offer the highest quality advanced education.
Is GSU in jeopardy of losing its accreditation?
No. GSU continues to meet or exceed the criteria for accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central States and by various specialized accreditors in specific major fields.
What can members of the general public do to help?
Please spread the word about GSU's secure future and let elected officials know about your pride in this university and your expectation for state support.