As we enter the tenth month of the Illinois budget impasse and approach the end of the academic year without a state budget, many people are wondering how the stalemate is affecting Governors State University (GSU).
We want everyone to know that we are open; we are staying open; we will celebrate our fiftieth anniversary in 2019 and our hundredth anniversary in 2069. Our tuition for 2016-17 will not increase, and we will continue to assume liability for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants promised by the state to low-income students.
We have prepared the following Q & A to address the questions we are receiving and to dispel false rumors:
What is the Budget Impasse?
For this Fiscal Year 2016, which began July 1, 2015, Illinois lawmakers have been unable to agree on a state budget. Illinois now holds the title for the longest state budgetary impasse in recent history.
How does this affect Governors State University (GSU)?
GSU, like all state universities, depends upon state funding. No budget for the State of Illinois means no appropriated funds for GSU. GSU expected to receive about $24 million for our operations in Fiscal Year 2016 and nearly $3 million for MAP award reimbursements.
Is GSU closing?
No, GSU is not closing. The university is well managed and has been doing ongoing budget reallocation for many years.
How has GSU been able to survive without a budget for so long?
GSU 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. Without state support in 2015-16, GSU has tapped into its emergency operating reserves that were set aside for physical plant repair, maintenance projects, and other essential uses. These funds must be replaced as soon as a 2015-16 budget is appropriated. GSU also continues its practice of careful planning and budgeting, giving the highest priority to student services.
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, 2016-17. 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. In addition, the Board of Trustees decided there would be no tuition increase for 2016-17. Our tuition and fees remain the lowest in the state. These decisions were made so that students can enroll in school without financial fear.
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.
Are some academic programs going to be cut 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. During the continuing budget crisis for university state funding, we will consider a number of possible reductions in personnel costs. Of course, if these reductions were to include elimination of academic programs, the university would meet its obligations to student completion for students enrolled in affected programs.
Will GSU and the other public universities ever get an appropriation?
Yes, and we hope it will be soon. We are doing our best to communicate to state leaders the importance of higher education to the success of Illinois' economy and its intellectual and workforce development.
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 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.